Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hearth Healthy Italian Style

It's that time of year when everyone starts making resolutions. In that spirit lately you have been asking us for healthy recipes. While I'm not qualified to offer diet advice; I did look up some healthy dishes to share with you. Last year as a part of our Wellness program our cooking school held special healthy cooking classes for employees. Here are some healthier versions of Italian favorites that Patty Roche, our cooking school manager, shared with us.

Eggplant Lasagna

Serves 6; 4x4-inch piece per serving
If you can, prepare this hearty lasagna a day ahead. Its flavors will be enhanced, plus all you'll need to do for dinner is toss a salad and make a quick fruit dessert while the casserole bakes.

Vegetable oil spray
6 dried lasagna noodles
3 cups chopped peeled eggplant
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 8-ounce cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 teaspoons low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 cup fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12x8x2-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.
In a large stockpot, prepare the noodles using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Drain well.
Meanwhile, lightly spray a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook the eggplant, bell pepper, onion, dried basil (if using fresh basil, add with the tomato sauce), and garlic for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium if the mixture starts sticking to the skillet.
Add the tomato sauce, fresh basil if using, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly thickened and the bell pepper is soft. Remove from the heat.
To assemble, lay 2 noodles lengthwise in the baking dish. Spread a scant 1 cup eggplant mixture over the noodles. Spread 1/3 cup cottage cheese over the eggplant. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layers twice, ending with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Tuck in the ends of the noodles if overhanging. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to let the cheese melt and make cutting easier.
Cook's Tip
When using fairly small amounts of cheese on top of a casserole, cover the dish with aluminum foil during the baking period to prevent the cheese from overcooking and drying out. Run the casserole under the broiler for a few seconds if you want to brown the cheese lightly.
Nutrition Analysis (per serving)
4.5 gTotal Fat
2.5 gSaturated Fat
0.0 gTrans Fat
0.5 gPolyunsaturated Fat
1.0 gMonounsaturated Fat
15 mgCholesterol
351 mgSodium
34 gCarbohydrates
5 gFiber
10 gSugar
15 gProtein
231 mgCalcium
573 mgPotassium
Dietary Exchanges
1 1/2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat

Thirty-Minute Minestrone
Serves 6; 1 2/3 cups per serving
You can make this classic Italian soup in about a half hour from start to finish.

4 cups water
2 cups miniature peeled carrots
15-ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
14-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, cut up
1 cup chopped onion
4 teaspoons low-sodium beef bouillon granules or 2 teaspoons regular beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
9-ounce package frozen no-salt-added Italian green beans
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup elbow macaroni, alphabet macaroni, or broken spaghetti, uncooked
1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Cooking Instructions
In a large saucepan, combine water, carrots, beans, tomatoes, onion, bouillon granules, garlic, basil, oregano, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add green beans, zucchini, and pasta. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is done.

Spoon into bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Nutrition Analysis (per serving)
1.5 gTotal Fat
0.5 gSaturated Fat
0.0 gTrans Fat
0.5 gPolyunsaturated Fat
0.5 gMonounsaturated Fat
3 mgCholesterol
270 mgSodium
30 gCarbohydrates
6 gFiber
9 gSugar
8 gProtein
Dietary Exchanges
1 starch, 3 vegetable


Serves 9; 1 slice per serving
You've had it at your favorite Italian restaurant, and now you can have tiramisu at home. It's easy to put together and tastes delectable.

8 ounces nonfat or light sour cream (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces frozen fat-free or light whipped topping, thawed (about 3 cups)
9 ladyfingers
1/4 cup strong cold coffee
1/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur, or 1/4 cup coffee plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Cooking Instructions
In a medium mixing bowl, beat sour cream, confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium until smooth.
Using a rubber scraper, fold in whipped topping until well blended.
Break ladyfingers into bite-size pieces; arrange half in an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a small bowl, stir together coffee and liqueur.
To assemble, drizzle half the coffee mixture over ladyfingers. Spoon half the sour cream mixture evenly on top, then sprinkle with half the cocoa powder. Repeat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 48 hours.
Cook's Tip
For even distribution, use a fine-mesh strainer to sprinkle cocoa powder.
Nutrition Analysis (per serving)
2.5 gTotal Fat
1.5 gSaturated Fat
0.0 gTrans Fat
0.0 gPolyunsaturated Fat
0.5 gMonounsaturated Fat
13 mgCholesterol
95 mgSodium
30 gCarbohydrates
0 gFiber
17 gSugar
3 gProtein
Dietary Exchanges
2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 fat

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