One Sauce, Two Recipes

There’s just something about the end of January that makes me yearn for warm, hearty Italian food. Here in Atlanta, the weather always takes a turn for the worse a few weeks after the New Year, and it’s just gray, abysmal, and really, really cold. All I want to do is hang out in the kitchen with the stove and the oven cranked up for warmth, fill the house with the smells of simmering sauce or stew, and then cuddle up in my favorite sweater and enjoy a hot meal with a decadent bottle of red wine. What’s better than that?

Ah…but it’s still January, which means that most of you are hopefully still on track with whatever resolutions you set for yourself a few weeks ago. For many, myself included, the constant resolution every year is to eat healthier and exercise more. Those two things don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with “hearty Italian food”, but these recipes (2 for the price of 1!) are meant specifically to be easy on your waistline and good for your body. Frank bought me this great cookbook a few years ago by Rocco DiSpirito, and we constantly turn to it as a source of inspiration when we want something delicious without tons of fat and a total calorie overload. This book, Now Eat This (one of the many editions), is geared towards taking old classics that have never been what one would call “light” and trimming them down for the health-conscious. Here, I’m going to present 2 separate recipes from that book that were created with one big batch of delicious marinara sauce. The best part about these recipes, other than the fact that they’re delicious and healthy, is how quick and easy they are to prepare. You won’t be simmering sauce for hours on end; in fact, the sauce itself takes just under 45 minutes to make and comes out tasting like you cooked all day. It can easily be used in any recipe that calls for marinara sauce, and the recipe makes enough for a couple of uses; feel free to store it in the refrigerator for a few days, or even freeze it. We’ve eaten the frozen sauce up to 6 months later without any issues. My recommendation is to whip all this up together and have a yummy, family-style, Italian meal with a couple of friends. You’ll save so many calories on the food, you won’t feel guilty at all about drinking some wine…salud!

Marinara Sauce
Ingredient List
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil      [60 calories]
1 large yellow onion, diced
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 28-ounce cans of tomato puree     [780 calories]
½ cup water

Makes about 6 ½ cups
Calories per cup: 110

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat, and then add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and then season with salt and crushed red pepper, mixing well to combine. Cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
Sauteeing Onions and Pepper  [Marinara Sauce]

Add the tomato puree and water, bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer slowly for 25 minutes.
Simmering Sauce  [Marinara Sauce]

Remove the lid, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Allow sauce to continue simmering for another 5 minutes, uncovered. Remove sauce from the Dutch oven and set aside to cool.

Turkey Bolognese
Ingredient List
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 small celery stalk, roughly chopped
½ small yellow onion, roughly chopped
Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
12 ounces ground turkey breast     [450 calories]
¼ cup dry red wine     [50 calories]
2 cups of Marinara Sauce (recipe above)     [220 calories]
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces egg noodles     [660 calories]

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 345
Turkey Bolognese

In a small food processor, combine the carrot, celery, and onion until the vegetables are finely chopped. Heat the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, spray the bottom and sides well with the cooking spray. Add the vegetables, and cook until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. (I found out this is referred to as mirepoix, which is a fancy French word for a blend of carrot, onion, and celery aromatics.)
Mirepoix  [Turkey Bolognese]

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground turkey to the pot, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, or just until the turkey has browned.

Add the red wine, and bring the mixture to boil. Boil until the wine reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, and then season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Simmering Sauce [Turkey Bolognese]

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the egg noodles according to the package instructions, usually about 8 minutes for al dente. Drain, and then toss with the turkey Bolognese mixture once it has finished simmering.
Pasta and Sauce [Turkey Bolognese]

Serve the turkey Bolognese sauce over the noodles, with a bit of parsley for garnish. Delicious!

Recipe – Turkey Bolognese – PDF Version

Grilled Chicken Parmigiano
Ingredient List
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved and pounded thin (~ 1 lb. total weight)     [400 calories]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
2 cups of Marinara Sauce (recipe above)     [220 calories]
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (feel free to get fancy with fresh or flavored tomatoes)     [105 calories]
½ tablespoon dried basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese     [340 calories]
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese     [180 calories]
½ cup panko breadcrumbs     [90 calories]

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 334
Grilled Chicken Parmigiano

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Slice the chicken breasts down the middle to obtain four, thin fillets. Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap, and use a mallet to pound them a little bit thinner. Season well with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken breasts until they are just cooked through, about 1 ½ minutes per side.
Grilling Breasts [Grilled Chicken Parmigiano]

Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Arrange the grilled chicken breasts on top of the sauce, cover the breasts with the other cup of sauce, then scatter the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with the basil, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
Chicken Parm Before Baking [Grilled Chicken Parmigiano]

Bake the chicken for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese on top begins to bubble and turn brown. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, and then sprinkle the cooked breasts with the panko breadcrumbs. Garnish with a bit more basil if desired.
Bubbly Goodness [Grilled Chicken Parmigiano]

Recipe – Grilled Chicken Parmigiano – PDF Version


All three of these recipes appeared in Rocco DiSpirito’s book, Now Eat This. We altered a few items here and there, namely we didn’t use whole-wheat panko or Weight Watchers’ brand cheese or fresh herbs (we were fresh out and didn’t feel like running to the store). We also tossed a bit more crushed red pepper into the marinara sauce than was required, but we like a little kick in our meals.



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