Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

99% Fat-Free Italian CookingWe just couldn't resist the temptation to include a version of the first "Italian" dish to which most Americans of a certain age were exposed. We don't know if anyone is certain of the derivation of this combination, although Michele Scicolone reports one theory in A Fresh Taste of Italy--that it was invented early in the century by American dietitians who were trying to introduce more protein into the typical pasta diet of Italian immigrants.

By starting with turkey breast tenderloin rather than preground turkey, which may contain hidden fat, you keep fat content to a minimum. We chop it along with the seasonings in the food processor. The meatballs are then baked, not pan-fried in oil. Peppery arugula is a major flavor component in both the meatballs and the versatile sauce, which would work nicely in almost any recipe that calls for a tomato-based sauce.

  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • 6 ounces turkey breast tenderloin slices, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup nonfat liquid egg substitute, or 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped arugula
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk


  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons reserved sun-dried tomato soaking liquid
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups cut-up boxed or canned tomatoes with their juice, or 1 pound tomatoes (about 2 tomatoes), peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 ounces dried spaghetti

For the meatballs, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and water in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes for the tomatoes to reconstitute. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop (about 2 tablespoons).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with the olive oil. Combine the reconstituted tomatoes with the turkey, bread crumbs, egg substitute or egg whites, onion, garlic, arugula, salt, black pepper, red pepper, skim milk, and 2 tablespoons of the tomato soaking liquid in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is finely ground and has formed a large ball.

Using about 1-1/2 tablespoons for each, form 12 meatballs. Place them on the prepared sheet and bake for about 9 minutes, until crisp and brown, shaking the pan every 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

For the sauce, preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the tomato soaking liquid and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the mixture is almost dry. Stir in the garlic and arugula. Add the tomatoes and red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the sauce is thick and dry. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the spaghetti, and cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. For each portion, serve 1 cup pasta and 3 meatballs.

Fat per serving = 1.00 g.
Calories per serving = 270.8

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Excerpted from 99% FAT-FREE ITALIAN COOKING by Barry Bluestein Copyright© 1999 by Bluestein/Morrissey. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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