Talk Takeaway: Cooking Rocco DiSpirito

Posted on Oct 1, 2012 10:45am

Chef Rocco DiSpirito shows us how we can make amazing Italian dishes for under 350 calories. Here are the recipes from today's show.


Now Eat This! Italian by Rocco DiSpirito
Grand Central Publishing

2 ounces fresh mozzarella
8 organic whole wheat lasagna sheets, such as Delallo
Olive oil cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
4 large egg whites
2 cups no sugar added marinara sauce, such as Trader Joe's
1 cup fat-free ricotta
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
24 fresh basil leaves, sliced into ¼-inchthick ribbons
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the mozzarella in the freezer.
  3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
  4. Add the lasagna sheets and stir once to make sure they don't stick together. Cook according to the package instructions until the sheets are al dente, about 8 minutes.
  5. Drain the sheets and run under cold water until cool.
  6. Coat a large cookie sheet with 4 seconds of olive oil spray.
  7. Spread the lasagna sheets over the cookie sheet in one layer.
  8. Squeeze any excess water out of the spinach; place it in a bowl and set aside.
  9. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or by hand, until they form medium peaks.
  10. Pour the marinara sauce into a large skillet over medium heat; bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat.
  12. Add the ricotta and half the Parmigiano to the bowl with the spinach. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the basil.
  13. Season well with salt and pepper (keeping in mind that the egg whites have no seasoning at all).
  14. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  15. Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on the top third of the pasta sheets and gently roll them into cylinder shapes.
  16. Remove the mozzarella from the freezer and cut the chunk in half so there is a flat side to make slicing easier.
  17. Cut the mozzarella into 8 thin slices.
  18. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with 2 seconds of cooking spray.
  19. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and place the rolls on top, seamside-down.
  20. Gently spoon the remaining sauce over the cannelloni, sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano, and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  21. Place in the oven and bake until the egg whites are cooked and the cheese mixture is hot in the middle, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  22. Remove the baking dish from the oven and place a slice of mozzarella over each roll, then place the dish back in the oven uncovered to melt the cheese, about 2 minutes.
  23. Plac e 2 rolls on each plate and sprinkle the remaining basil over the top.
  24. Spoon any remaining sauce around and over the cannelloni.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Now Eat This! Italian by Rocco DiSpirito
Grand Central Publishing

2 ounces pancetta
2 pints Brussels sprouts, cleaned, cut in half from top to stem
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the pancetta in a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the pancetta is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned bits of pancetta and reserve.
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Lay the Brussels sprouts cut-side-down in the pan.
  6. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the Brussels sprouts start to sizzle.
  7. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the Brussels sprouts are tender and nicely browned, about 8 minutes.
  8. Add the lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and reserved pancetta bits, then season with salt.
  9. Stir to combine.
  10. Divide among 4 serving dishes and top with the pancetta.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Espresso Budino

Now Eat This! Italian by Rocco DiSpirito
Grand Central Publishing

3¼ cups skim milk
3 tablespoons ground hazelnut-flavored coffee or espresso beans
1 packet sugar-free chocolate pudding mix, such as My-T-Fine
1 ounce dark chocolate
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
2 teaspoons soy lecithin (available at health food stores such as GNC)
1 packet stevia, such as Stevia In The Raw
1 cup no sugar added puffed Kamut cereal
Pinch of ground cinnamon


  1. Pour 2¼ cups of the milk into a medium saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the coffee, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Remove from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Strain the milk into a bowl through a strainer lined with 2 sheets of paper towels.
  5. Chill the strained milk by placing it over another bowl filled with ice water and stir until cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
  6. Return the milk to the saucepan and whisk in the pudding mix.
  7. Place over high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
  8. Turn off the heat.
  9. Break ¾ of the chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until the chocolate is melted, about 1 minute.
  10. Scrape the chocolate into the pudding and whisk to incorporate fully.
  11. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the pudding into a bowl and place back over the ice water; stir until chilled, about 5 minutes.
  12. Place the remaining 1 cup milk in a tall container and add the agave nectar, lecithin, and stevia.
  13. Blend with a hand blender until foamy, about 30 seconds.
  14. Grate the remaining chocolate with a knife and set aside.
  15. Mix the Kamut into the chilled pudding and spoon the mixture into 4 coffee cups.
  16. Top with the milk foam, sprinkle with the cinnamon and chocolate shavings, and serve.

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