If I could eat my way through any country it would be Italy, no question. Mostly because of the two “P” words pizza and Pasta. (I don’t care what the food critics say. In my article, pasta is still “IN.” )
I know, pizza is different over there. Actually it’s probably lower in fat because they like their pizza dough with only a little cheese on it (unlike us Americans who like our cheese with only a little pizza bread under it).
But even if you have it the American way, when you order the vegetarian special or cheese only versions (no extra cheese), you’re still dealing with a comparatively low fat entree (28 to 32 percent of calories from fat).
In the pasta department, one of your best choices is mushroom spaghetti. Even the stand-by spaghetti and meat balls isn’t too bad—with 38 percent of calories from fat. If you’re going to cover your noodles or ravioli with something, choose the Marsala, made with wine, or Marinara, made with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
It’s the pesto and cream type sauces that are the trouble makers. Mix your fettucini noodles with a pesto cream sauce and suddenly you’re looking at a 67 percent calories from fat dish. If it’s a must have situation, you could order or serve your pasta with half the original amount of sauce.
This will cut the fat and calories way down. Then comes a dilemma I know I’ve faced in a few Italian restaurants: Manicotti or cannelloni, which should it be?
Well, the answer is neither at least not the way they’re traditionally made. Both have about 800 calories a serving (namely, two manicotti or cannelloni rolls), with 65 percent of calories from fat and from 300 to 600 milligrams of cholesterol. But you could order or serve them covered with a Marinara sauce and just a sprinkle of cheese instead of the creamy sauces and blankets of cheese usually topping them.
You will get less stuffing and more pasta for your money when you stuff a ravioli or tortellini instead of a cannelloni one of the best ways I know to lower the percent of fat calories. A large serving of meat filled ravioli with a tomato sauce and a generous amount of cheese has around 700 calories, with 42 percent from fat.
With a last name like Moquette, my European bias toward food may come as no surprise. Still, I do love foods from the South and East as well.