Friday, November 06, 2009

Low Carb Italian? Is it Possible?

So here's another post in the low carb, low sugar recipes series... My friend Ken's favorite cuisine happens to be Italian. Hmm... Italian food is one of the highest carb cuisines in existence I think.... at least Americanized Italian food is. The fact is though, if you strip back down to authentic Italian food, there are a lot of healthful foods to be enjoyed.

So below, I have compiled recipes to form a lower carb, low sugar, enjoyable, Italian-esque dinner. On the menu, we have minestrone soup, "Spaghetti" (squash) with Marinara, Albacore Stuffed Mushrooms, and Ricotta Mocha Mousse.

Minestrone Soup

(this recipe is based on Biba Caggiano's Minestrone with the amount of oil and pancetta reduced, and the ham omitted)
8 C Chicken broth
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/6 lb pancetta, chopped
3 C cabbage, shredded
1 white onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1/4 lb. string beans, chopped
salt and peper
1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated

Heat chicken broth. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add parsley and garlic. Saute over med. heat. Before garlic changes color, add pancetta. Saute until lightly browned. Stir in cabbage. Cover and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining vegetables to saucepan. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Add broth. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove half of the vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a blender until smooth. Return ingredients to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with parmesan cheese.


"Spaghetti" with Tomato Sauce (ala Michael Chiarello)
2 whole spaghetti squash
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce:

Basic Tomato Sauce by Mario Batali
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 28-ounce cans of tomatoes, crushed by hand and mixed well with their juices
Salt, to taste

1. Place oil into a sauce pan with onions and garlic, and cook over medium heat until translucent but not brown (about 10 minutes). Add the thyme and carrot; cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

2. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately or set aside for further use. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.

When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin. Toss the spaghetti squash in the pan with the hot marinara.


Albacore Stuffed Mushrooms
This is on my rotation. I usually use crab and lots of cheese, but I know you are also watching your cholesterol. Ugh!! :(
1 can white albacore tuna
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic
4 ounces low fat sour cream
4 ounces low far cream cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Mushrooms, destemmed and prepared (see pic below)
Save your stems and gills from mushrooms and chop them finely.

1/4 cup white wine
Dash oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Brush prepared mushroom caps with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast gill side down for 10 minutes at 380 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic and mushrooms until the onions are transparent. Crumble the albacore into the vegetables. Stir in sour cream and cream cheese. Add wine, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in bread crumbs. Fill mushroom caps with mixture. Top with a bit of parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until cooked through.


Ricotta Mocha Mousse (me)

After dieting for well, forever... I have come up with sweet things for me to eat so I am not constantly sucking down buttercream...

1 cup ricotta cheese (you can buy the lower fat variety if desired)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tbsp splenda
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 sugar free cookies like these
1/3 cup very strong coffee
Sugar free chocolate shavings for garnish like this

Im a mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese with the Splenda, add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, 2 tsp. coffee and the cornstarch. Mix well to combine. Pour the remainder of the coffee in a small bowl. Soak the cookies in the coffee to saturate them. Arrange them the bottom of a serving glasses, fill with the ricotta mousse. Freeze for 30 mins. Remove from the freezer and garnish with chocolate chips and cookie crumbles.


I know it's not pizza and pasta, but hopefully this will serve as a good substitute for some of those flavors! xoxo

1 comment:

cristina said...

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