Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian Meatballs and Pasta















Nothing says, "Dinner's ready!" like the aroma of Italian cooking. This slimmed-down version of one of my family’s favorite meals will be one you’ll turn to again and again and is perfect for guests or Sunday dinner. On a lazy day, start this cooking over low heat, check it every thirty minutes or so, and then settle down to a dinner that’ll keep your family talking for weeks to come!


Ingredients

1 one-pound package of mild Italian turkey sausage links (about five links)
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 10.75 oz. can of tomato puree (can substitute tomato sauce), salt free
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 bell pepper (any color), sliced into strips
1 14.5 oz. can diced Italian-style seasoned tomatoes, salt free
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
Multigrain pasta (like Barilla Plus), one serving per person, any style or shape you like
1 15 oz. can organic chicken broth

Remove casings from sausage links. Cut each link into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small meatball. One serving of meat/protein is approximately six meatballs. Over medium-low heat, cook meatballs in olive oil approximately 25-30 minutes, until browned. It’s important to cook over low heat, as olive oil isn’t intended to high-heat frying. Plus, slow cooking the meat will render out more fat. If the meat begins to dry out, pour up to half of the can of tomato puree over the meatballs to keep them juicy.

When meatballs have lightly browned, drain excess oil and broth from the pan, leaving a small amount to prevent burning. Add onions and peppers to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook until onions are soft and turning clear.

Add remaining tomato puree, diced tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. Simmer over low heat thirty minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer this cooks (up to two hours) the better it will taste.

During last fifteen minutes of cooking, in a separate pot, boil multigrain pasta in one can of organic chicken broth (for added protein and flavor) and water to cover. Cook until al dente, and drain. In the photo above, I've used angel hair pasta, but I often make this with farfelle (bowtie) pasta, as well.

Place the pasta on a large, deep platter or bowl, then pour the Italian sausage, vegetables and sauce into the center. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.

Serve with a green salad and organic dressing. Bread is not required with this meal, as the pasta serves as your fast-burning carbohydrate for the meal.

This recipe serves 4-5 people. (One fist-sized portion of pasta, one fist-sized portion of veggies and sauce, and six meatballs), plus unlimited garden salad. If you're cooking for two or three people, rest assured that this recipe refrigerates well and will reheat as a tasty lunch, tomorrow.


WHY MULTIGRAIN PASTA?

Pasta isn't the evil we've all been taught to fear, however, white pasta isn't very good for you. It's much higher in "bad carbs" than multigrain pasta, which is naturally higher in fiber and rich in protein. Plus, brands such as our personal favorite, Barilla PLUS, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which make it a heart-healthy meal.



4 comments:

Michael Ann said...

This sounds so good! I love the chicken stock idea for cooking the pasta...what a great way to add protein...awesome!

joan said...

Yum!

Angie said...

I look foward to your recipes. I have already been won over by the multi grain pasta. In fact, I bought some today at the grocery store.

Tara said...

Rhonda, the blog looks great, as does the food. I like that you include information for why you added the healthy items.

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