It is tradition (most weeks), to eat Italian food at our house on Wednesday nights. I grew up with this tradition and have carried it forward with my family.
Honestly, we could probably eat Italian every night. We all love it. Who doesn’t? Pasta, bread, salad, lean meat…Yum!
And there are many ways to make it healthy. Cheese and meats (sausage and fattier cuts of beef) tend to be the ingredients that can turn healthy dishes into high fat and cholesterol nightmares. So beware. Use reduced fat cheeses and cut back on the amount of cheese a recipe may require. And lean beef and sausage (chicken sausage) is so good. Give it a try.
Pasta wise, use whole wheat or multigrain pasta. Add some low fat (and low sugar sauce), and you will never know the difference. Watch pasta sauce because pre made versions tend to have lots of sugar. Make a low sugar sauce at home (see recipe below) or try reduced sugar brands. Sauce is pretty easy to make and freezes nicely.
And bread. One must have bread with an Italian dinner. My personal favorite. I could make a meal on bread alone. But I don’t. I love focaccia bread and make it from scratch, substituting whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. This adds fiber and still tastes really good.
I am including three of my favorite recipes for Italian fare. I welcome your recipes too! The more the yummier!
3/4 cup chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup of olive oil (good for your heart)
2 (28 ounce) cans of whole peeled tomatoes
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of white sugar
2 bay leaves
1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is transculent. stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaves. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 90 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, basil, and black pepper. Break down tomatoes with a wooden spoon (squish them against the side of the pan). Simmer 30 more minutes. I usually simmer it an additional 30-60 minutes because I like the sauce thick. Consistency is up to you.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs (i use Panko)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon groun black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg beaten (i use 1/4 cup egg beaters)
In a large bowl, combine beef, crumbs, parsley, parmesan cheese, black pepper, garlic powder, and beaten egg. mix well and form into small balls. I usually end up with 16 to 20. Store covered in refrigerator until needed. When ready, bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes (be sure to cut one in half to make sure it is cooked before serving). Size of meatball means varying cooking times.
I actually use the recipe from Better Homes and Garden. Pretty easy, but does require some time. Only change I make is using 1/2 wheat flour. If you are not use to baking with wheat flour, maybe start with less wheat flour. You must start the “sponge” the night before. It is worth the work. So good. We dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.