Heart-healthy dinner boasts Italian influences

October 09, 1991|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,Orlando Sentinel

The growing popularity of Northern Italian cookery has changed the way Americans think of Italian food. Gone are the days when heavy, fat- and cheese-laden dishes like lasagna and baked ziti were the only Italian dishes Americans were familiar with.

The ingredients in the following recipes are a blend of typical Northern Italian flavors.

Pork Florentine

8 slices boneless pork chops, sliced 1/8 -inch thick and trimmed of all visible fat (about 3/4 pound)

10 ounces chopped, frozen spinach leaves, thawed and drained

2 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup, loosely packed)

Linguine and Tomatoes (recipe follows)

Lay the slices of pork on a work surface. With a sturdy coffee mug or the smooth surface of a meat tenderizer, pound the slices until they are paper thin. Do not tear meat. Set aside.

Squeeze or press the spinach against the sides of a colander to remove excess water. Combine with chopped green onions, parsley or basil, salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard, garlic and mozzarella cheese.

Place about one-quarter cup of the spinach mixture on four slices of pork. Top with a second slice of pork and press down to make a "sandwich." If desired, secure with a toothpick inserted on the diagonal.

If there is a small amount of spinach filling left, add it to the Linguine and Tomatoes.

Cook meat sandwiches over a grill, about six minutes on the first side and four minutes on the other. Turn with a spatula. Serves four.

Linguine and Tomatoes

1 9-ounce package fresh linguine or 12 ounces dried pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 1 to 1 1/4 cups)

1/3 cup fat-free Italian-style salad dressing

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the crushed garlic. Saute one minute or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently until the tomatoes are soft and slightly sticky.

Pour the tomato mixture and the salad dressing over the hot pasta, and sprinkle with the Parmesan or Romano cheese and parsley. Toss.

Divide pasta into four servings. Serve as a side dish with Pork Florentine.

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