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Rocco DiSpirito's Slimmed-Down Italian Recipes

Award-winning chef and bestselling author Rocco DiSpirito traveled throughout Italy to learn the secrets of the cuisine from those who cook it best—Italian mothers—for his new cookbook, Now Eat This! Italian. He created more than 100 healthier versions of Italian-American favorites, all low in fat and with less than 350 calories, including these dishes. Each of which tastes just as delicious as the original but comes without the guit.

RELATED: Surprising Ways to Slim Down Comfort Food Favorites

 

Caprese Salad

DiSpirito drizzles this salad with "super olive oil," which has almost 75 percent less fat and calories than regular olive oil.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon green olive juice (from a jar of green olives)
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 large ripe tomatoes (heirloom, if possible) sliced into 16 1/2-inch slices
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick>br> 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, stems removed

Directions:
1. Combine water, olive juice, and xanthan gym in a small bowl and whisk until thick. Add olive oil and whisk until smooth.
2. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top each with a slice of mozzarella, then season again lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange 4 tomato and cheese slices overlapping on each of 4 small salad plates and scatter basil on top. Drizzle each plate with 1 tablespoon olive oil mix.

Nutritional score per serving: 167 calories, 11.5g fat

Spaghetti Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro simply means "tomato" in Italian. The dish embodies the core philosophy of great Italian cooking: few ingredients at their peak equals lots of flavor.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
8 ounces 100% KAMUT wheat spaghetti (such as Alce Nero)
Salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
16 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 cups diced very ripe tomatoes
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add spaghetti and cook until less than al dente, about 6 minutes, stirring after the first minute to avoid sticking. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
2. Pour olive oil into a large nonstick skillet and add garlic, spreading evenly over the skillet. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook until garlic begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Turn heat to medium, add red pepper flakes and half the basil leaves, and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook until sauce comes to a simmer and has slightly thickened, about 2 to 5 minutes. Add half the cheese and stir to combine completely into sauce. Turn off heat and season lightly with salt and pepper.
4. Add pasta and reserved cooking water. Raise heat to medium-high and toss pasta and sauce together using a heat-resistant rubber spatula. Cook until sauce coats pasta and noodles are just cooked. Add remaining basil and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Nutritional score per serving: 277 calories, 6.5g fat

Peaches and Prosecco with Almond Cream

This dessert version of the bellini cocktail, combining peaches with prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), is not to be missed.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 ripe peaches, cut into bite-size chunks
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon soy lecithin (available at health food stores such as GNC)
16 ounces rosé Prosecco

Directions:
1. Spoon peaches into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with almonds.
2. Combine milk, agave nectar, and almond extract in a medium bowl and blend with a hand blender until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add lecithin and blend for about 20 seconds until frothy.
3. Spoon mixture over peaches. Serve with prosecco.

Nutritional score per serving: 184 calories, 2.5g fat