So those of you that know me and follow me frequently know that somewhere in our heritage there is Italian or at least Mediterraean lineage and I cook it alot, not the typical heavy pastas all the time but light, fresh and lovely. Well, sometimes you just have to have Spaghetti and meatsauce and sometimes you just need Mozerella sticks. I make my own sauce (or gravy as some northern Italians like to call it) and I love to lighten it up with ground turkey. Some traditional sauces use lean ground beef or full fat ground beef, lamb or even italian sausage but this is how we eat our sauce lightened up MOST of the time when we eat red sauce. Also, I'm including our low fat, gluten free and now EGG FREE Mozerella sticks recipe, for the marinara sauce to dip it in just scoop a little out before you add your meat.
1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 finely diced carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I buy the fire roasted, organic and /or San Marzano whenever I can)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp Italian dried seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
fresh grated parmesan to taste
vegetables of preference (optional)
(some italian families use a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity but I do not, if you prefer you can add)
(for a "drunken sauce" add a 1/4 C Chianti or other favorite red wine to pan after sauteing the onion and garlic and tomato paste - for this sauce we also add kalamata olives or capers)
1 12 oz gfree spaghetti or 1 halved, roasted with olive oil spaghetti squash that you turn over and run a fork down long ways for spaghetti type noodles
Warm the olive oil in a heavy pan or dutch oven, add carrot and saute onion until translucent then add garlic and stir until fragrant. I like to add my tomato paste at this point and run it around the pan to warm it. If you are adding wine you would now, otherwise add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add seasoning and reduce to low. I typically put my sauce on in the morning and let it cook on low, developing flavors all day. You can scoop some out at this point for marinara or add vegetables like mushrooms, olives, zuchinni, whatever your preference. Just before dinner I will boil a large pot of salted water and throw in the gfree pasta (if using spaghetti squash I typically roast it while I make the sauce so it has some time to cool before shredding it into the "noodles"). To a nonstick fry pan I brown the turkey or whatever meat I am using, drain and add to sauce. I will then wipe the nonstick pan, add enough of the meat sauce to coat the spaghetti and add the cooked noodles to the pan to soak up the sauce. I then freeze the rest of the sauce for a later date. Add sauce about 1 cup at a time until desired coating. Serve hot and top with Parmesan and fresh basil if you like.
Low Fat - Allergy friendly Mozzerella Sticks
12 sticks weight watchers mozerella sticks or other reduced fat mozerella sticks, cut in half and frozen
1 c gfree all purpose flour of choice
1 c unsweetend almond milk (or coconut milk)
1 c very fine gfree breadcrumbs of choice (there are some available in stores or you can take your leftover gfree bread and make breadcrumbs OR Glutino has some yummy crostini now available that you can grind finely in your food processor for instant breadcrumbs)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
It is very important for you to know that the mozerella sticks MUST be frozen prior to making this recipe or you will have one big mess on your hands. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Have 3 shallow bowl or pans ready with flour, milk and breadcrumbs with italian seasoning mixed in. Take the frozen sticks out of the freezer and working quickly dredge them in the gfree flour, then allow them to soak up the milk a little and roll them in the bread crumbs and place on the cookie sheet. once you get all 24 sticks rolled and on the sheet place in the oven for 5-8 minutes watching carefully for a sign they will bust. You should be able to turn them at this point and let them go another 3-5 minutes, just watch them closely. They should end up golden brown and beautiful. Take them out and allow to cool and enjoy with marinara sauce as a great appetizer before the spaghetti OR as an after school snack.
Isabelle has had issue with dairy in the passed and is not a fan of cheese usually BUT she loves these sticks and asks for them regularly. You could also use this method to make fish sticks with strips of tilapia or your favorite white fish.