December 12, 2016

3 Fresh Entree Ideas For Extra Happy Holidays

Traditions can bring family and friends together during the holiday season. If you have turkey or ham every year for dinner, though, it might be time to try something new. Students earning a culinary certificate online are developing the skills to prepare a wide variety of dishes that could be fantastic additions to any celebratory feast. Make one or two of these entrees this year and your guests may demand more for next year:

1. Embrace braciole
For an entree that’s a little different from the usual seasonal fare, Food Network suggested a recipe for the Italian dish braciole from Giada De Laurentiis. Start by combining dried bread crumbs, garlic, Italian parsley, olive oil and grated pecorino Romano and provolone in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

“For an entree that’s a little different, try braciole.”

Sprinkle the mixture onto a flank steak, covering the meat with an even layer. Then, roll up the steak and fasten with butcher’s twine. Add salt and pepper to the exterior.

Warm olive oil on a medium heat in an ovenproof skillet and cook the braciole for about eight minutes. When the meat is browned, pour in a cup of dry white wine and bring to a boil. Add tomato sauce and partially cover the pan with foil.

Place the skillet in an oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an hour, basting with the sauce. Uncover the braciole and cook for another half hour, waiting for the meat to grow tender. Slice and serve with the sauce dripped over the top.

2. Pile on the pasta, cheese and mushrooms
Another Italian-inspired item that can be a perfect crowd pleaser for the holidays is lasagna. Food & Wine suggested a meatless version that packs in plenty of flavor. Melt butter into olive oil in a skillet and add shallots, then wild mushrooms.

Sprinkle on salt and pepper and cook at a high heat until the mushrooms brown. Boil away a half cup of white wine before pouring in heavy cream. Simmer until the mixture reduces, and then mix in parsley, salt and pepper.

While preparing the filling, boil sheets of of lasagna in salted water. Cool the pasta before starting to layer a baking dish lightly coated with melted butter. Alternate layers of pasta with a combination of the mushroom filling and cubes of taleggio cheese. Finish off by brushing cream on top and throwing on some more of the cheese.

Set buttered parchment paper on top of the lasagna and bake in an oven set to 350 degrees. After 15 minutes, take off the paper and cook another 15 minutes. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for the lasagna to cool before serving.

Lasagna can make a satisfying holiday dinner.Lasagna can make a satisfying holiday dinner.

3. Offer a vegan alternative
If you have guests who don’t eat animal products, or you just want to experiment, try a vegan take on the classic roast. Jamie Oliver provided directions for a tasty roast cauliflower that begin with making a paste from garlic, paprika and thyme and adding olive oil. Trim the stalk and outer leaves from the cauliflower and cut a cross shape into the bottom.

Rub the paste onto the cauliflower and set it in a casserole pan. Add lemon juice and a few tablespoons of dry sherry. Cover and place in an oven set to 350 degrees for an hour before removing the lid. Then cook another 20 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and add sliced plum tomatoes and lemon zest. Return to cook for 10 minutes, watching for the cauliflower to turn a golden color. Serve with toasted almonds, parsley, steamed greens and extra-virgin olive oil.

With a few creative ideas, culinary academy students can bring excitement to their annual dinner. Explore a new dish this year and you might make the holidays a little happier.