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These recipes are designed to be more in line with the way Italians eat rather than Italian Americans. Eating the Italian way means incorporating more vegetables and healthy fats into your recipes and eating less meat.

Do you want to trim down this summer? Then, trim some calories from your recipes. Trimming calories, however, doesn’t mean trimming flavor. These reinvented Italian classics are an excellent example of how to do this type of makeover.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Calorie savers in this recipe: egg whites instead of a whole egg; eggplant is baked, not fried and no oil is used in cooking.

I like to serve this dish with olive oil mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • 1 large eggplant (1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups panko crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • Shredded fresh basil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray. Set aside.

Cut the eggplant crosswise into eight (about 3/4-inch-thick) slices, discarding the small ends. Place slices on a double layer of paper towels. Sprinkle all sides of the eggplant slices with the salt. Let stand about 30 minutes or until liquid is visible on the surface. Rinse salt and liquid off the eggplant slices; pat dry with paper towels.

Place egg whites in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish combine panko, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, basil and oregano.

Dip eggplant slices in the egg whites, then in the panko mixture, turning to coat both sides of each slice. Place coated slices on the prepared baking sheet.

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with any of the remaining panko mixture.  Lightly coat tops of coated eggplant slices with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Carefully turn eggplant slices over. Bake for 15 minutes more or until lightly browned and the eggplant is tender.

Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the spaghetti sauce onto each eggplant slice. Divide shredded cheese evenly among eggplant slices. Bake until the cheese melts. Garnish with basil before serving.

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Pasta Carbonara

Calorie savers in this recipe: less pasta due to added vegetables; lean pancetta instead of bacon; low-fat milk for the sauce instead of cream.

This is a one-dish meal that doesn’t need any sides.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces multigrain spaghetti
  • 1 pound broccolini or broccoli rabe, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 round slices pancetta, each about ¼ inch thick and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One 12 ounce can evaporated low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Directions

Cook spaghetti al dente, adding broccolini for the last 5 minutes of cooking and the peas during the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water; drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter and saute pancetta. Remove the pancetta to a small bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and the flour. Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and return pancetta.

Place spaghetti-vegetable mixture in a large serving bowl. Pour sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water over the top. Toss gently to combine. Thin to desired consistency with more of the reserved cooking water.

Top with snipped parsley and additional grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs

Calorie savers in this recipe: squash instead of pasta; ground turkey and bulgur instead of beef; baked meatballs instead of fried.

Serve this dish with a green bean salad.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • One 3 pound spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
  • Three 14 1/2 ounce cans Italian crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Snipped fresh basil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat the cut sides of the spaghetti squash with cooking spray. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a 15x10x1-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake about 50 minutes or until squash is soft. Let cool slightly. Use a fork to separate the strands of squash.

For the meatballs:

Place bulgur in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur; let stand about 20 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Add egg, ground turkey, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning. Mix to combine. Shape into 1-inch meatballs. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Place in the oven with the squash for the last twenty minutes.

Preheat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, the salt and the remaining 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken. Add meatballs and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve meatballs and sauce over spaghetti squash strands. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and basil.

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Baked Cavatelli Pasta

Calorie savers in this recipe: less pasta with the added vegetables; leaner chicken sausage instead of pork; part skim mozzarella cheese.

Serve this dish with a mixed green salad.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cavatelli pasta (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces Italian cooked chicken sausage, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (4)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • One 28-32 ounce can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought spaghetti sauce
  • One 5 ounce package fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (6 ounces), divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook pasta al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven heat the olive oil and brush the bottom of the pan with the warm oil to completely cover the bottom. Add sausage, green onions, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and spinach; stir until spinach wilts. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Stir in the cooked pasta.

Spoon into a greased 3-quart casserole. Cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

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Chicken Cacciatore

Calorie savers in this recipe: chicken skin removed; vegetable filled sauce; very little oil used in cooking.

Serve over cooked spaghetti.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 small chicken thighs, skin removed (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 large green sweet pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into bite-size strips
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot (1 small)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • One 28 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pearl onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus extra for the chicken
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 10 pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 4 oz dried spaghetti, cooked al dente

Directions

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken thighs lightly with salt and cracked black pepper. Brown chicken thighs turning once. Remove chicken from the skillet; set aside.

Add mushrooms, bell pepper, carrot and garlic to the skillet; cook for 4 minutes. Add wine. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add tomatoes, onions, oregano and coarsely ground black pepper, stirring to combine.

Return chicken to skillet. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Stir in balsamic vinegar, olives and parsley. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve each portion with a ½ cup of cooked spaghetti.

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