It has been awhile since I have posted recipe ideas. When living in Italy many think that our lives revolve around food. Well this is one assumption that isn’t too far off the mark. Average conversations between Italians tend to involve questions such as: “what do you think you will eat for lunch today?”, “Will you eat pasta for lunch or dinner?”, or my own personal favorite “Will we be able to eat a three course lunch during our two hour lunch break?”. Not only is the love of food the common denominator of all conversations, it is the very glue that binds this country. Italians are very proud of their culinary heritage, and though the cuisine changes from region to region, Italians still prepare their fare using the same ingredients they have used for centuries. That being said, it is fairly difficult to find exotic non-Italian ingredients in the average supermarket. Ergo, all recipes I use for dinner ideas must be “Italy Friendly”.
First up is the appetizer: Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms courtesy of Allrecipes.com
This recipe almost 100% Italy Friendly. The only difficult ingredient may be the sour cream, which I have been able to find in Tuscan supermarkets called Esselunga, albeit it sports a German label. I suggest a Greek plain white yogurt in case sour cream is unattainable. Not only is this recipe super delicious, but is also time conservative. The only culinary skills needed to execute this appetizer are chopping and mixing. Filling the mushroom tops could be tricky, and potentially messy. Avoid this dilemma by using a plastic sandwich bag. Fill the bag with the mixture leaving one bottom corner empty. Cut out the corner to create a hole about the size of a US dime. This will allow you to pipe the mixture into the mushroom tops in an easy and efficient manner.
The entrée is a Basil-Garlic Pork Chop also courtesy of Allrecipes.com. This recipe may not be friendly to the non-pork eating cultures of the world, but anyone who has been in Italy knows that pork is the main staple in meat products, from cold cuts to main dishes! Therefore finding a decent cut of pork is fairly easy in just about any Macelleria (butcher shop). Basil and Garlic are used as the base of the marinade with a dash of lime juice and oil. What could be more Italian? This quick main dish has a total start to finish time of about 1 hour, and is greatly complemented with a grilled zucchini side dish which you can prep while your chops are marinating! Grill them together for less hassle!
This light flavorful dinner deserves a light flavorful dessert, so no heavy chocolate cakes here! This easy Allrecipes way to whip up some Baklava really breaks the myth that Baklava is hard to make. Phyllo dough is extremely easy to find in just about any supermarket in Italy. I suggest using Pistacchio and Hazlenut (commonly known as nocciola) for your pound of chopped nuts. Vanilla extract could be a bit problematic, so use an actual vanilla bean which seem to be easier to find. The prep and baking time of this dessert correlates fairly well with the appetizer and entrée. This light dessert will definitely keep the Mediterranean spirit of your dinner alive without weighing you down!