Lightened Italian meatballs

This Sept. 5, 2017 photo shows lightened Italian meatballs in Bethesda, Md. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (Melissa d'Arabian via AP)

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 40 minutes

8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 pound 93 percent lean ground beef

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup oats, pulsed or blended into a coarse powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups jarred marinara sauce, with no sugar added

Place the sliced mushrooms in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mushrooms are the texture of coarse couscous. Do not over-process or it will become pasty. Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until onion and mushrooms are softened, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, Italian herb blend, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir, and then remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the egg white and the cooled mushroom mixture. Add the ground beef and mix together, using hands if necessary. Add the parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, fresh basil and ground oats and mix together, just until blended.

Use a small ice cream scoop to portion out uniform meatballs, and roll them gently together in your hands. (You will have approximately 26 meatballs 1.5 inch in diameter.) Pour the marinara sauce into a heavy sauce pan or small Dutch over. Gently place the meatballs in the sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer gently for 20 minutes, removing the cover about halfway through the cook time. Serve.

Chef’s Note: This recipe yields tender, juicy meatballs, but for caramelized, crustier meatballs, bake on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes at 375 F, and then toss in sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 233 calories; 80 calories from fat; 9 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 49 mg cholesterol; 724 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 22 g protein.

Melissa d’Arabian, Associated Press