Eat (Guilt-Free) Italian

You can eat healthy without giving up the goods! This slimmed-down meatball recipe is a dieter's dream.

Health Monitor Staff
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Star Chef Rocco DiSpirito shed over 30 pounds and 12% of his body fat—and kept his favorites like meatballs on the menu! In fact, for his recent book, Rocco visited Italy to learn from the "Italian Mamas" like Carolina Coppola of Sorrento. Here's a slimmed-down recipe from Now Eat This! Italian.

Mama's Meatballs and Spaghetti

Makes 4 servings

Olive oil cooking spray
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups tomato purée
1½ cups diced tomatoes
½ medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
6 oz. lean ground turkey breast
4 oz. 96% lean ground beef
2 oz. extra-lean ground pork
1 large egg white
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano grated cheese
2 cups puffed wheat cereal
Salt to taste
6 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked

Preheat your broiler. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Add half the garlic, half the onion and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add half the chicken broth, the tomato purée and the diced tomatoes; let simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the eggplant cut-side up on a broiler pan and broil until lightly browned, 4-6 minutes. Remove from the broiler and place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high until tender, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Scoop out a ½ cup of the pulp and finely chop.

Combine the turkey, beef, and pork in a large bowl. Place the egg white, remaining chicken broth, remaining onion, remaining garlic and parsley in a blender and blend until finely chopped (but not puréed), about 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the meat along with the cheese. Crumble in the cereal with your fingers. Add the eggplant, season with salt and mix gently.

Using your hands, form the mixture into 16 balls. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Brown on the opposite side about 2 minutes. Remove and gently place meatballs in the tomato sauce. Simmer for 1 hour.

Serve meatballs with spaghetti and topped with tomato sauce.

What a change!

Before: Fat (grams) 91, Calories 1,500
After: Fat (grams) 4.5, Calories 349

March 2013