Easy Italian meals you will love

I love Italian food. It’s a comfort food to me.  

My Momma loved it too, but she hated cheese. Can you believe that? We would go to a nice restaurant and she would order a dish that was usually covered or cooked with cheese, and tell the poor server, “No Cheese!” I can hear her now.  Of course, the rest of the family loves cheese. She would cook dishes with cheese and make hers without. 

I thought I’d share some of my favorite dishes. Our Italian meal would be spaghetti, creamed spinach and a big green salad with homemade dressing. It’s a great meal if you’re having guest or a family gathering. 

Hope you enjoy!

Bacon Spaghetti

5 slices bacon

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, break into 1/2 inch pieces, and set aside. Drain bacon grease, and return pan to heat. Sauté onions over medium heat until tender. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in bacon and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. 

Stir basil, oregano and parsley into tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes more. Toss with hot pasta. Top with grated Parmesan cheese when serving. 

Instant Pot Spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

 1 teaspoon garlic powder

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon pepper

 1 pound spaghetti noodles

 2 24 ounce jars marinara sauce

 3 cups water (We use beef broth)

Set a 6 quart instant pot to sauté. Add the olive oil, ground beef, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook and crumble until no longer pink.

Break the noodles in half. Layer them in a crisscross pattern so they do not stick as it cooks. Pour the marinara and water on top of the noodles.

Cook on high pressure for 5-7 minutes. Use the quick release and wait for cycle to complete before unlocking. Stir together and serve with parmesan and chopped basil.

Creamed Spinach

3 (10 ounce) bags frozen chopped spinach 

2 tablespoons butter 

1 medium yellow onion, diced 

6 large cloves garlic, minced 

4 ounce cream cheese 

1 cup heavy cream 

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

Cook spinach in microwave according to package directions. Remove excess water (squeeze carefully using cheese cloth, a tea towel, or a colander) and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until translucent.

Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and cook, stirring, until melted.

Add heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes. Add mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Stir till combined.

Fold in spinach into cream sauce and cook for an additional minute to reheat spinach.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The leftovers reheat great and you can also freeze it!

Homemade Italian Dressing

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 garlic clove, grated

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, option

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, honey, oregano, garlic, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper.

If desired, stir in the cheese.

Barbara J. Miriam

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