Regardless of where you travel, you will likely be able to find a good Italian restaurant that serves traditional meals. When we were in Tuscany we ate many different meals and, unlike other cuisines, the food was pretty much the same as what we find everywhere. When we were in Rome, we actually ate lasagna at a couple of different restaurants and they were both delicious. We have our own family recipe for lasagna that we have enjoyed for years. It is very versatile and can be done as a vegetarian dish or with other meats like ground pork. We make our own spaghetti sauce, but using a favorite store bought brand is certainly perfectly fine. We always make a large batch and then enjoy the leftovers later or even freeze it to pull out on a cold day. It is definitely a meal that gets even better over time.
1 box Lasagna Noodles – Either oven ready or cooked to the package directions
1 lb Ground Beef
1 tsp Dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Powder
7 cups Spaghetti Sauce – homemade or store-bought
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese – shredded
2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese – shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat the spaghetti sauce in a large sauce pan, add the ground beef, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the meat is fully seasoned. Spoon just enough of the meat sauce to cover the bottom of a large casserole dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Put a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce, being sure to overlap the noodles slightly. Cover the noodles with more meat sauce. Using half of the ricotta cheese, place spoonful’s across the meat sauce. The cheese will spread out as the lasagna cooks. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. For the final layer, add noodles, a lighter coating of meat sauce, and the remaining 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
One of the things that we enjoy when we travel is tasting all of the different ways that places use seasonal fruit with wild game. Although pork isn’t game food like the elk, duck, or goose, it does stand up to bold flavors like the food that we find during our travels. This isn’t an Asian plum sauce, but an actual reduction made with this seasonal fruit. We chose to make this with thick-cut pork chops, but it could just as easily be done with a pork tenderloin as well. It is certainly the type of meal that can be served for a holiday or special occasion, but it also works for a weekday meal as well. As usual, this recipe serves two, but it can easily be increased for more.
2 Large Pork Chops – about 1 1/2 inches thick
1 cup Beef Stock
2 tsp Fresh Ginger – peeled and grated
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1/3 cup Honey
4 sprigs Fresh Mint
3 Plums – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Dried Rosemary – chopped
2 tsp Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, remove the zest of the orange into wide strips. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a medium sauce pan and add the zest. Heat the sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar, honey, and beef stock and whisk the ingredients together. Add the mint and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the plums and continue to cook until the plums are soft, adding the butter after about 10 minutes. Continue to cook for about another 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove the mint, season with salt, and keep warm while the pork is cooked. Season both sides of the pork chops, which should be at room temperature, with the garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops in the skillet until browned and cooked to the desired doneness, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place the pork chops onto plates and spoon sauce over the top. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
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