I did not grow up eating sausage, and the first time I ate Italian Sausage as an adult I did not like it. Trial and error taught me that I don’t like fennel seed.
When I started Weight Watchers (now called simply WW), one of the members @dhallakx7 made a cookbook of low point recipes. This means they are lower in fats and sugars and higher in protein. He made a low fat sausage by using ground turkey instead of pork. I took his recipe a step further by using ground turkey breast (zero points on WW Freestyle) and of course I left out the fennel seed. I made a few other small changes…
I added my turkey “sausage” to a pasta sauce and it’s delicious! Here’s how you can make this low point recipe at home:
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 TB plan, fat free Greek Yogurt
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 TB dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 TB beef broth
3/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 TB red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add turkey.
Stir together all the other ingredients.
As turkey begins to cook (it will turn from pink to white) stir in all other ingredients.
Continue cooking and stirring, breaking up the meat with a spatula as you go.
1 TB olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes (mine were stewed in Italian spices)
1 (15 ounce) can canned tomato sauce (mine was no salt added)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Your homemade turkey sausage
Red wine, optional
In the large skillet from the sausage, heat olive oil, garlic and onion over medium heat approx. five minutes.
Pour in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix in salt, ground black pepper, basil, oregano, bay leaf and cooked sausage. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove bay leaf from sauce before serving. If you have the points available, stir in about 2 oz. red wine. I used pinot noir.
Spoon cooked sauce over hot pasta (sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese if you have the points available) and enjoy!
Set a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the Lepanto Metro stop and the River Tiber, kind of near The Vatican, sits Trattoria della Barchetta. The restaurant seems unassuming from the outside with about 4 visible windows flanking the front door with white awnings discreetly stating the restaurant’s name and a few small outside tables.
Great architecture along the way
The first time we ate at Trattoria della Barchetta, it was me and my husband, and we were looking for a leisurely, romantic, authentic lunch. We had no plans for the afternoon and wanted food that would WOW us. We entered about 20 minutes after they started serving lunch. My first reaction was to the amazing smells. My second was that the dining space was so much larger on the inside than it seemed from the outside. I guess many locations in Rome have small entries but lead back into deep spaces. Then I saw a round table just left of the entrance full of a variety of fresh baked desserts.
Two men were busy behind a counter and looked up to greet us with a friendly “Ciao!” To one we asked, “Two for lunch?”, an immediate way of letting them know they were dealing with English speakers. The other brought us each a glass of cool, sweet, bubbling prosecco and a blob of hot, fried dough covered in fragrant olive oil to whet our appetites. They were so puffy and heavenly scented I asked if they were fried zucchini, but he insisted it was pizza. This was while we were still standing in the doorway! Then they showed us to our table.
Trattoria della Barchetta has a folded, laminated menu with English translations showing a wide variety of pastas, meats and desserts. Tucked inside is a brown piece of paper with a handwritten Italian menu. During my trip planning for Italy, someone told me to be on the lookout for this! Usually items that are handwritten are made with ingredients that are fresh that day. So we tossed the extended menu aside and just ordered off the Italian menu. And we were happy to find we could understand most of the Italian ourselves – from just a little time spent on Duolingo before our trip, plus Brian’s high school Spanish and my high school French. (You’ll find the link to their menu on their website is broken.)
Brian ordered gnocchi with mushrooms. There was not much of a sauce, maybe a drizzle of white wine. I had four-cheese tagliatelle pasta with black truffle. Both were great, but the truffles were a bit rich for me and I couldn’t finish my meal. Brian’s was amazing down to the last bite! I asked if we could each have one more of the little pizza dough balls we had when we came in, and they brought us a bowl full to enjoy. After we ate they came around with a tray of pastries to try (which I declined) and chocolate covered candied orange (which Brian insisted I had to try.) That put our tummies over the top and we took the Metro back to our apartment to shower and nap.
Tagliolini with cheese and truffles
Pizza dough balls
I so enjoyed the meal, service and atmosphere, and was disappointed that we hadn’t room to try more – like beef or veal – that I told Brian I would be happy to return again for dinner one night. As it happened, we had a day trip to Pompeii and one of our fellow tourists mentioned on the train ride home that he wanted an authentic delicious dinner for his last night in Rome. I suggested Trattoria della Barchetta, showed him our food photos from lunch, and said, “I can’t guarantee we won’t be there too.” So he asked if we’d meet up with him, and we did at 8pm that night.
one of the wines we tried
The three of us ate dinner like Italians that night. When you reserve a table in an American restaurant, they assume you’ll eat, pay, leave – and they can turn the table over to another paid customer. But in Italy when you reserve a table, you are expected to linger and it’s yours for the night. With all of our food, two bottles of wine and interesting conversation (he was also the parent of teenagers and had some cool travel stories to tell) we were there for a few hours. We shared two appetizers (one was mussels and clams but I forget the other one), veal, the same gnocchi Brian ordered, and more I can’t remember. (I let our new friend take the photos and he was going to email them to me but he hasn’t and I’ll probably never see him again.)
For dessert we ordered tiramisu to share – which the server came and made tableside. That added a special touch! They also brought over 4 bowls of cookies and sat them on the table for us to taste as we liked while we finished off our wine and conversations.
When supper was over and we were a little tipsy, I told Brian that we should visit the Trevi Fountain. I figured the big crowds would be gone at night. The one time we saw it during the day the crowd was so big we never pushed our way through to get close. It was also our last night in Rome, so I thought it was our last chance to toss a coin in. You are supposed to toss a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder to ensure a return trip to Rome. Rumor has it the money is collected to finance a supermarket for the poor people of Rome with the help of Italy’s Red Cross.
Selfie at the Trevi Fountain
We walked to the Trevi Fountain with our buddy and found approximately 25 people hanging out. Nothing like the 6-rows deep crowd of 10am-5pm! We tossed our coin. Then we all set out for a nightcap.
By the time our drinks were finished, the Metro was no longer running, so Brian and I walked the 2.5 miles back to our apartment past The Vatican. This provided a lot of beautiful photo opportunities – with historical sites well lit at night. Brian was gushy and romantic about both our relationship and our pretty last stroll through Rome. I will have lovely memories for a long time from that night.
Last night I made Cajun Jambalaya Pasta to have in the fridge for my busy weekend. It’s yummy!
2 tspn Cajun spice mix (I made my own blend, and added Tabasco sauce.)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
½ cup clam juice
2 ounces green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 ounces red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 ounces yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips
4 ounces red onions, cut into thin strips
(I bought a frozen bag of chopped peppers and onion for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the prep time.)
½ pound fresh medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined, tails removed (I bought cooked shrimp already seasoned with Old Bay)
½ cup of diced tomatoes (I bought a can of diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic and onion)
1 lb fresh linguini pasta Cooking Instructions:
1. Melt butter in a saute pan.
2. Add the seasoning and stir with the melted butter.
3. Add the chicken into the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is about half done.
4. Once the chicken starts cooking, place the pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente.
5. Add clam juice into the pan with the chicken
6. add the peppers and onions. Cook for another minute, making sure the vegetables are heated through and the chicken is almost done.
7. Add the shrimp and tomatoes into the pan. Toss the ingredients together and continue to cook until the shrimp are almost done.
8. Continue to cook mixture until both the shrimp and chicken are thoroughly cook through. Turn off heat but leave pan on hot burner for 5 mins.
9. Place some pasta into each bowl. Spoon equal portions of the jambalaya mixture into each bowl over the pasta.
I found this online but I don’t remember where. When I reheat this to eat it this weekend I’ll snap a photo.