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Ellie Krieger: The Food You Crave

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Today's guest blogger  Ellie Krieger author of The Food You Crave which is nominated for both an IACP award in the Health and Special Diet and a James Beard in the Healthy Focus category. Oh and she's a Food Network star too.

In The Food You Crave presents Ellie's approach to healthy eating while still enjoying some butter, cheese and other traditional no-no's.

We asked Ellie to share her cravings…

Crave it, Make it, Enjoy it

By Ellie Krieger

For me, craving is the mother of invention. Take my meatball recipe, for example. I remember the moment inspiration struck. I was lying in bed one morning fantasizing about those savory, satisfying mouthfuls of saucy perfection - how I love them on toothpicks at a party, doused in marinara piled atop spaghetti, and nestled in some crusty bread under a blanket of bubbling melted cheese. They stayed on my mind all day, haunting me in the loveliest way.

Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer
But I wasn't craving just any meatball. The ones I wanted had to be really meaty, not orbs of meat-flavored breadcrumbs, they had to be tender and moist with just the right amount of meaty crumbliness. I wanted them laced with garlic and fresh herbs. And because I wanted a meatball that would fill me up without slowing me down, they had to be lean and healthy too.

What could I do but hit the kitchen to create my very own meatball perfection? The result continues to satisfy me and my family. I make these meatballs regularly now, whipping up double batches on the weekends and freezing them in their tangy sauce in quart size containers so I get a meatball fix whenever the craving strikes.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

From The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. Taunton Press, 2008.

For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil

For the meatballs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey meat  
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, crusts removed and pulsed into crumbs in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the spaghetti
  • One 16-ounce box whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

To make the sauce, in a 4-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring a few times, until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, chipotle, oregano, and rosemary, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the liquid has evaporated slightly, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, make the meatballs. Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Form into 2 1/2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Broil until browned and almost entirely cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the rosemary sprig from the sauce and stir in the basil. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and cook until the sauce has slightly thickened and the meatballs have absorbed some of the sauce, about another 10 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and meatballs, toss together, and heat through over medium heat. Divide evenly among 6 pasta bowls, sprinkle with the Parmesan, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Serving size: 1 1/3 cups pasta and sauce, plus 2 meatballs

Meatball and Pepper Hero

From The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. Taunton Press, 2008.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • One 12-ounce loaf Italian bread (preferably whole grain)
  • 8 meatballs and 1 cup sauce from Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce (see above)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

Preheat the broiler.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and salt and cook until the peppers are soft and the onions golden, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut the bread into quarters crosswise and cut each quarter in half, being careful not to cut all the way through, so the two halves stay connected. Scoop the soft center out of the bread and discard. Put the bread, open-faced, on a baking sheet. Place 2 of the meatballs and some of the sauce on one side of each piece of bread. Top with the pepper mixture. Moisten the other side of each sandwich with more of the sauce and sprinkle all over with the cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Serve hot.


Serving size: one-quarter of the hero, containing 2 meatballs, 1/4 cup sauce, 1/2 cup pepper-and-onion mixture, and 2 tablespoons cheese

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.


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