This light and lovely Caprese Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing is a taste of my recent trip to Verona, Italy. It takes 15 minutes to throw together and is filled with the simple but beautiful colors and flavors I experienced abroad.
In one of the greatest “pinch me” moments of my blog life and my real life, Giovanni Rana, a family-owned Italian pasta company, invited me to tour its factory outside of picturesque Verona. I expected the tour to be interesting, the scenery to be lovely, and the food to be scrumptious. It was, after all, Italy.
What I didn’t anticipate? Feeling as if I’d been adopted into a new, vibrant, pasta-loving Italian family after just three days. I also didn’t expect the product’s production to impress me as much as it did. I can honestly say that after this experience, I will never view fresh pasta, especially filled fresh pasta such as ravioli and tortellini, the same way again.
Going into the trip, I knew from Giovanni Rana’s website that the pasta was made with “fresh” ingredients. Had you asked me what the term “fresh” really meant, however, I couldn’t have told you much. To me, “fresh” was more than likely a cool buzzword that companies slapped on packaging to make their products sound more wholesome than a sign of actual quality.
Then, I toured the Giovanni Rana factory. “Fresh” could not be more literal. I witness cartons of real mushrooms and radicchio being cooked for pasta filling. Refrigerators the size of my house opened to reveal rows of fresh basil that perfumed the air. Wheels of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, along with slabs of prosciutto, and precious hunks of goat cheese were cut for us to taste before they made their way down the production line. When the company says “fresh,” it means it. Like, really, really means it.
I’m going to go into more details about the company’s history and some of the trip highlights below, but I wanted to start with the freshness of the ingredients, because if you don’t take anything else away from this post, I want their quality and the completeness of the product to be what you remember. Pasta doesn’t only mean dry, packaged noodles that you smother with jarred sauce. As I witnessed firsthand, pasta can also be light, fresh, and a meal unto itself. Because they already contain fresh ingredients, filled fresh pastas (such as the spinach