Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love coming together with family and friends to celebrate the spirit of the season. Being a major foodie, the one thing I find frustrating is the lack of diversity in the foods during this time of the year.
Starting in mid-November, turkey and dressing can be found in restaurants, on the TV and in many folks refrigerators almost constantly. For many families, Thanksgiving and Christmas just aren’t the same without a turkey. Whether its roasted, smoked or deep fried - turkey is everywhere!
Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey and try to use the entire bird whenever possible. I’ve become quite creative with my use of the leftovers and usually freeze the extra meat to enjoy it later. But sometimes I just want something else. This year, that craving led to an Italian themed Christmas Eve dinner. We planned the menu without a single thought of turkey.
Our menu included a salad, a pasta, some fish, a pork loin roast, a vegetable, and tiramisu for dessert. The pork roast was prepared with a Marsala and mushroom sauce, and served with wilted spinach. I must say that went over well and I loved the creamy richness of the sauce paired with the earthiness of the spinach. It was a perfect dish for the holiday or even for Sunday dinner.
As the year is draws to a close, I reflect on the past for lessons learned, while also looking to the future for whatever it may hold. Remember that our lives are dynamic and ever changing. Events have a way of altering our perspective on life and how we live it. This year I had to say goodbye to two people that were taken from us too soon. Remember to love those around you and grab opportunity when you can. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well my friends.
Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butterfly the pork by cutting horizontally on one side, not cutting completely through and opening flat like a book. Season both sides of the roast with salt and pepper and sprinkle about 2 TBSP of flour evenly over each side.
Heat 1 TBSP of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking dish and reserve the pan for the sauce. Bake the pork until an instant read thermometer reads 140 F in the thickest part of the roast or about 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest on the cutting board for about 5 minutes.
While the meat is roasting, Add the mushrooms and ¼ tsp salt to the skillet (you may need a little oil) and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining TBSP flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the broth and Marsala and bring to a boil. Add the cream and boil until the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in 2 tsp of lemon juice and the parsley.
In a large pot, heat the remaining 1 TBSP of olive oil over medium high heat and cook the spinach until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tsp of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Slice the pork. Serve with the mushroom sauce and spinach.
Alternate: I boiled the spinach for about 3 minutes then drained and mixed in the lemon juice and seasoning. Just be sure to squeeze out the excess water or it will dilute your mushroom sauce.
NOTE: One pound of spinach looks like a lot in the store but it collapses down greatly in size and is just the right amount for this dish.