Italian Food without Italian Ingredients

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January 15, 2014 by caitlinvaclark

I’m in complaint mode again today. Perhaps it’s just the insanely crabby mood I’m in but I don’t get it. We are so much closer to Italy than anywhere in the US (obviously I know you’ve all seen a map before). So why can’t I find Italian sausages? I don’t necessarily mean to sound all “the US is better than the UK” because that’s not the case. In fact there are a zillion kinds of delicious sausages here. But that’s what makes it so silly. Why does London not want me to have my Italian favorites?? Add to the list that I can’t find broccoli rabe anywhere, and I’m missing two of the key items  for one of my favorite weeknight meals: Sausage with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans in white wine. Ugh. Without 2/3 of the ingredients, this craving will not be answered any time soon. I reserve the right to bitch about this again at a later date.

Over the new year, I ignored my lack of spicy seasoned ground pork and made Mario Batali’s Sausage and Pesto Lasagna. Since I couldn’t find hot Italian sausage, I sautéed garlic and leek sausage with a bunch of dried oregano, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Worth a shot. But as I was stirring the sausage into the béchamel sauce, I started wondering if this lasagna was going to taste more like diner biscuits and sausage gravy than an elegant italian meal.

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In the end it worked out. Though probably not quite as good, it was definitely rich, cheesy, creamy, and delicious.

Mario Batali's Sausage and Pesto Lasagna: A Broad Cooking

As you can probably tell, this is one recipe that I have categorized on Pinterest under “Super Indulgent Foods” which is why now this week we are actually eating things like Daphne Oz’s Roasted Garlic Chicken and Farro Soup. Diet city.

Daphne Oz's Roasted Garlic Chicken and Farro Soup: A Broad Cooking

Completely unrelated and not from The Chew, I have a healthy recipe for you that still tastes a bit indulgent: Grilled Pork Chops with Creamed Corn and Avocado Salsa. It’s the perfect something to make for dinner that is a happy medium between a cheesy creamy, let’s be honest, very fatty, lasagna and a diet soup.

Making the creamed corn with milk and light cream cheese gives you great richness and a perfect tang without all the fat of heavy cream. And the pork chops are spiced with a smoky ancho chili powder and cumin to pack a lot of punch. The smooth ripe avocado with sour lime juice and sweet tomatoes are the perfect topping to cool down the spice and compliment the creamy corn. It tastes like a bit of summer in these colder months but will definitely fill you up and leave you satisfied.

Grilled Pork w/ Creamed Corn & Avocado Salsa: A Broad Cooking

Grilled Pork Chops with Creamed Corn and Avocado Salsa

Serves 4

4 boneless pork chops

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ancho chili powder

1-2 Tbs olive oil, divided

4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 Tbs butter

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup light cream cheese

1 Tbs cornmeal

1 ripe avocado

2 roma tomatoes

Juice of 1 lime

Season the pork chops evenly with salt, cumin, and ancho chili powder. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Let rest for 5-30 minutes.

Melt butter in a high-sided large skillet. Add corn, milk, cream cheese, and cornmeal. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.

Heat a grill pan over high. Cook pork chops for about 3 minutes per side, until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, dice avocado and tomatoes. Mix with lime juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve pork chops on a bed of the creamed corn and top with avocado salsa.

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