Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mangia! Italian Recipes from Supper Club 600

Following up on yesterday's Adventure blog, today I'm sharing some of the recipes from our Italian edition of Supper Club 600.

This supper club was the first one that, during the full preparation time, I was home solo.  Tom used to be our primary (who am I kidding - our SOLE) cook, and the testing - outside of baking - was his turf.  Now that he has a very busy work week, it was up to me to come up with the majority of our recipes, except for Tom's favorite...

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

  • 1 ounce spaghetti
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp good quality olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)

Warm the olive oil, and then saute the garlic until browned and fragrant.  Boil the spaghetti until just al dente (which means "to the tooth," or just biteable.)   Drain the pasta, and then add to the pan.  Toss with a touch or red pepper, and you're ready to go!  Tom cooks this for himself, occasionally, for breakfast.  And it never fails - when I wake up and come downstairs, I ask him what he's been cooking because it smells delicious.  The answer is always Aglio Olio.

Now, on to some of my own recipes!

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Red bell peppers (30-40 minutes at 400)
Cherry tomatoes (15-20 minutes at 400)
Zucchini (15-20 minutes at 450)
Sweet onion (30-45 minutes at 400)
Garlic (30-40 minutes at 400)
Olive oil spray (like Pam)
Balsamic Vinegar

Spray the bottom of a few different baking pans (I recommend pyrex a few inches deep.)  I tend to pair like veggies together, because they take different times to cook.  Then prepare the veggies: cherry matoes are good as-is, peppers need to be halved and de-seeded, zucchini sliced into spears, and onion into wedges.  You can just slice the top off a head of garlic and roast all together.

Once you lay the veggies in their pans, give them another quick spritz of olive oil spray, and then pop them in the oven, time and temperature listed with each ingredient above.

When all are finished roasting, combine tomatoes, zucchini and onion in a bowl.  Place the peppers while still warm (but not hot) in a plastic zipper bag, to steam the skins.  They'll be ready for you to peel after a half-hour.  Then squeeze the roasted garlic (through the sliced top of the head) into the bowl with the rest of the veggies.  Toss with a tablespoon of vinegar, and you're all set!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Authentic carbonara was my favorite dish in Rome.  I had no idea that all of America made it so improperly.  I had always thought it was a cream-based dish.  In fact, the glory of carbonara is that there is no cream, only egg - and that's what makes the spaghetti strands stick together!

Real carbonara is very caloric - pancetta, lots of egg, lots of cheese, and lots of pasta.  I lightened up the recipe by reducing egg/cheese, swapping turkey bacon for panchetta, and swapping spaghetti squash for pasta.  It's surprisingly delicious for the calories.

1 spaghetti squash
3 egg yolks
3 slices of lean turkey bacon
2 tb good-quality parmesan cheese, grated.
2 shallots, minced
Olive oil spray (like Pam)

Halve the squash and bake it rind-up 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  Cool slightly, and then separate the "spaghetti" strands by lightly scraping with a fork from stem to stern.  This can be done slightly ahead of time, as the squash will be rewarmed later.

Saute the shallots in olive oil spray, with the turkey bacon, until all are browned. Whisk the yolks together with the grated cheese.  Add the squash to the bacon pan, and pour the eggs in.  Toss the squash quickly and continually until the eggs are cooked and the cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.


I am insanely proud of this recipe.  We knew, as soon as we decided to have the Italian theme, that we'd want tiramisu for dessert.  And little did I realize that tiramisu is crazy caloric per serving.  If you've eaten even a small serving of regular tiramisu, it was probably light and fluffy, and you probably didn't realize how calorie-dense it was.  A typical small serving is around 350 calories, and goes up from there.  Though - I have to apologize, this is actually 55 calories, not 50 calories.  (Still, that's a big reduction.)

But I love a challenge, so I went hunting for ingredients to combine and swap to lower that calorie count.  And swap, I did.

Swap #1: Lady Fingers.  They're not the worst thing in the world, but they're dense and rich, and in tandem with the creamy filling, they add to the overall pudginess of tiramisu.

So instead, I used individual angel food bundt cakes that I purchased at Ralph's. (Also known as Kroger's, for all of you who grew up in or around Midland.)

Swap #2: Mascarpone cheese. This little bugger crams 120 calories into a single tablespoon.  But it has a particular taste and texture that is hard to recreate, so I wasn't sure I could do it... that is, until I met Quark.

Quark is a German cream-style cheese that is kind of similar to mascarpone, but is slightly more sour... and comes in a fat-free variety!  To adjust texture and flavor, I folded in fat-free (5-calorie) Reddi Wip after the usual tiramisu ingredients.  It may be challenging to find Quark, but I was able to locate it in a specialty grocery store (Gelson's) so you may be able to locate it at one near you.

Here's the final recipe.

  • 1/4 cup Quark
  • 1/4 cup fat free Reddi Wip
  • 1 tb sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 mini angel food bundt cake
  • 2 shots of good-quality espresso
  • scant 1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa (or less - you don't need much.)

With a mixer, blend Quark, sugar and vanilla.  Once smooth, fold in Reddi Wip.

There should be 12 ridges in each bundt. Slice between each ridge, and use four ridges for one serving. 

Soak one side of a ridge in espresso for 2-3 seconds, then flip and soak the other side.  Repeat, and place both ridges at the bottom of the serving cup.  Then layer a tablespoon of the Quark mixture on top of the cake, sealing it in the bottom.  Repeat the soaking process for the other two ridges, and lay them on top of the Quark mixture in the cup.  Layer one last tablespoon of Quark, making sure to seal in the rest of the cake.  Sprinkle a touch of cocoa on top, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


There are other recipes we used from that day, but if I gave all of them to you... why would you buy the cow when you get the milk for free?  Just kidding.  If you want one of the other recipes from the menu I shared yesterday, let me know and I'll pass it along to you.  Everybody needs a good recipe - it's a great way to take care of you (which I hope you're doing today!)


  1. I am reading this before class and was trying to think about what to make for dinner... and I think the answer is that you need to just come over and re-create it all for me! Haha! This was seriously delicious and amazing!!! :)

  2. ALL WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I will be on the look out for Quark... even at the low calories, it is still a good thing that I can't just run out and whip it up on a whim!

    Love hearing the recipes, always good to add something to the repertoire. And I love that Tom makes the pasta for breakfast- sometimes breakfast food just doesn't sound good.