recipes

Faux Italian sausage

“Everything you see I owe to pasta.” Sophia Loren, Italian actress, bombshell

Italian sausage can do so many things. Top pizzas. Add a delightful savory layer to soups like the Olive Garden’s beloved Zuppa Toscana. Bring some zip to pasta dishes of every sort.

It’s soooo tasty. But for those of us trying to trim calories wherever we can or those of us who don’t have easy, inexpensive access to a version that isn’t loaded with chemicals or other sketchy ingredients, it can be a problem.

Turkey, once again, comes to the rescue. A turkey-based faux Italian sausage is lower in fat and is often less expensive than the real thing. It’s also very easy to prepare. Enjoy!

Faux Italian sausage

Put 1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh or thawed ground turkey (I use 93 percent lean) in an iron skillet. Add 1/2 cup water. (Water is needed because turkey is so very low fat.)

Turn heat on medium and begin cooking, using a spatula or spoon to break the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Add water and reduce heat if needed to prevent meat from burning. Continue cooking until water is evaporated and there is no pink remaining in meat.

Remove from heat. Add 2-3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (as in basil, oregano etc.), 1 teaspoon fennel (critical for that “sausage” flavor) and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix well.

This recipe is great as a pizza topping or calzone filling; in any sort of pasta dish, including lasagna; and in soups such as homemade versions of Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden classic). It is also delicious over plain, white jasmine rice — add a veggie and this meal will be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Faux sausage stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you can’t use this up in a day or two, pop it into the freezer.

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