Ravioli With a Cranberry, Date, Walnut & Pancetta Sauce

"This came from a friend who owns a restaurant in Colorado, however I recently found the same recipe on "The Kitchen" website, so, all I can say is... it's a great dish whoever the chef maybe. It is simple and quick. The key is to use a good fresh ravioli. Now The Kitchen website recommended, spinach, mushroom or cheese ravioli, but I have used the mushroom which is my favorite, and have also tried a 4 cheese which is very good. I have a local Italian market that sells wonderful fresh ravioli, but Buitoni brand, also sells fresh ravioli which can be found at most major grocery stores. Butoni has a great variety of cheese, 4 cheeses, mushroom, spinach and chicken, even a whole wheat cheese variety which is very good with this. Also, Whole Foods carries a variety of fresh pasta as well. But there are many brands available these day, so just use your favorite. Serve with an Arugula salad with shallots and a honey balsamic vinaigrette and a crusty toasted baguette."
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Ready In:




  • Pasta -- Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil and cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Ravioli doesn't take too long, so make sure you have all your other ingredients ready.
  • Walnuts -- In a large dry saute pan (we are using a large pan because we will make the sauce in this same pan, and then add the ravioli once cooked also to the pan, so we need something fairly large), heat to medium and add in the walnuts. Cook 2-3 minutes just until you start to smell the nuts and they start to get golden brown. Keep an eye on them, they go quickly. You just want to lightly toast them. Once they are done, just put on a small plate off to the side while you make the sauce.
  • Sauce -- In that same pan, add 1/2 the olive oil and bring up to medium heat and add the pancetta and cook 2-3 minutes (it won't take long as it is thin sliced). Then add in the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook another minute. Toss in the cranberries, dates and cook until heated through.
  • Finishing -- Drain the ravioli well and add right to the pan with the pancetta and fruit. Add a bit more oil if the pan is dry, and cook just until the ravioli is well coated with the sauce. Toss in the walnuts, goat cheese, chives and pepper. Salt is optional (go easy because the pancetta and the goat cheese are both salty).
  • Serve -- Plate on a large family style platter and drizzle with the extra olive oil. Serve with a arugula salad and a honey balsamic vinaigrette and maybe a crunchy toasted baguette. ENJOY!

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<p>Growing up in Michigan, I spent my summers at my cottage in the Northern part up by Traverscity. On a lake, big garden which had all the vegetables you could imagine. My mom taught school, so summers were our vacation time. Gramps and I fished all the time so fresh fish was always on the menu, perch, blue gill, walleye and small and large mouth bass. At age 5 I learned how to clean my own fish and by 10 I was making dinner, canning vegetables and fruits, making pies and fresh breads. Apples fresh picked every fall, strawberries in June and July, Cherries at the Cherry Festival in Traverscity. So fresh foods always were a big part. Mom worked as a teacher during the year so dinner was more traditional with pot roasts, meatloaf, etc, but it seemed we always had fresh fruits and vegetables as part of the meal. Mom also didn't use as many spices as I do, but times were different back then. <br /> <br />So ... My motto is ... There is NO Right and NO Wrong with cooking. So many people thing they have to follow a recipe. But NO ... a recipe is a method and directions to help and teach someone. Cooking is about personal tastes and flavors. I love garlic ... and another person may not. I like heat ... but you may not. Recipes are building blocks, NOT text ground in stone. Use them to make and build on. Even my recipes I don't follow most times --They are a base. That is what cooking is to me. A base of layer upon layer of flavors. <br /> <br />I still dislike using canned soups or packaged gravies/seasoning ... but I admit, I do use them. I have a few recipes that use them. But I try to strive to teach people to use fresh ingredients, they are first ... so much healthier for you ... and second, in the end less expensive. But we all have our moments including me. <br /> <br />So, lets see ... In the past, I have worked as a hostess, bartender, waitress, then a short order cook, salad girl in the kitchen, sort of assistant chef, head chef, co owner of a restaurant ... now a consultant to a catering company/restaurant, I cater myself and I'm a personal chef for a elderly lady. I work doing data entry during the day, and now and then try to have fun which is not very often due to my job(s). <br /> <br />I have a 21 year old who at times is going on 12, aren't they all. Was married and now single and just trying to enjoy life one day at a time. I'm writing a cookbook ... name is still in the works but it is dedicated to those people who never learned, to cook. Single Moms, Dads, or Just Busy Parents. Those individuals that think you can't make a great dinner for not a lot of money. You can entertain on a budget and I want people to know that gourmet tasting food doesn't have to be from a can of soup or a box, and healthy food doesn't come from a drive through. There are some really good meals that people can make which are healthy and will save money but taste amazing. So I guess that is my current goal. We all take short cuts and I have no problem with that - I do it too. I volunteer and make food for the homeless every couple of months, donating my time and money. I usually make soup for them and many times get donations from a local grocery stores, Sams Club, Walmart etc, with broth, and vegetables. It makes my cost very little and well worth every minute I spend. Like anyone, life is always trying to figure things out and do the best we can and have fun some how along the way.</p>
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