I’ve definitely enjoyed having a hungry guy around because I can make real dishes and have someone to help with the leftovers! While big meals, like my lasagna, meatloaf, turkey burgers, and spaghetti and meatballs are delicious, sometimes a simple recipe for two is just what the evening calls for.
In celebration of my new job situation (I got 2nd, really awesome summer job!), I decided to cook us a nice dinner over the weekend, complete with fancy wine. And when looking for inspiration for our meal, I looked no further than the summer I lived in Argentina.
In summer 2009, I headed way down south to work for my undergrad university in Córdoba, Argentina. Of course, it was winter down there… But what most people don’t realize about Argentina is that Argentina is famous for Italian food. Aside from their delicious beef, the huge population of Italian immigrants that has flooded my beloved Argentina have created what is called the best Italian food outside of Italy — in the big cities, Italian is still spoken by a lot of the population!
I thought of one of the best combinations of Argentine cuisine — the merge of beef and pasta — in beef braciole (pronounced “bra-cho-lay”). Rolls of beef stuffed with parmesan, braised in tomato sauce, and served over pasta? Sign me up! And it makes a perfect dinner for two!
Braciole with Mushroom and Pasta (serves 2)
2 slices beef top round, sliced thin and pounded lightly
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 T fresh oregano leaves
salt & pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 T fresh basil, chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes (with their liquid)
1 cup crushed tomato
1/3 cup dry red wine
spaghetti or angel hair pasta
In a sauté pan, sauté the mushroom slices in a drizzle of olive oil until tender. Remove from heat and set aside. Slice the 2 cuts of top round in half, making 4 slices. Pound a few times with a meat mallet (or rolling pin). Using your fingers, rub a small amount of olive oil on one side of the meat as well as a sprinkling of salt and pepper. In a small mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan, and oregano together. Using a spoon, divide the mixture evenly onto each slice of the meat, then press it into the olive oil on the meat to help it stick. Roll the meat gently and secure with toothpicks (don’t use broken kebab skewers like me!). Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the same sauté pan that you used for the mushrooms and over medium-high heat, sear the beef rolls, about 2-3 minutes per side. Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the mushrooms to the pan along with the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, red wine, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer for 35-40 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, cook the pasta and drain. Serve the braciole along with its sauce on top of the pasta with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese!