3 Simple Italian-inspired dinners

Hearty calzones are stuffed with lean ground beef,

Hearty calzones are stuffed with lean ground beef, tomato sauce and diced mozzarella. (September 2012) (Credit: Marge Perry)

Marge Perry

Newsday columnist Marge Perry Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts,

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TIP Buy pizza dough from your local pizza shop or in the refrigerator case at the supermarket.

1. MEAT CALZONE

12 ounces (93 percent lean) ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

16 ounces tomato-basil pasta sauce

1 (15-ounce) bag refrigerated pizza dough (whole wheat or regular)

4 ounces part-skim mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Cook beef in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the clumps, until it gives off liquid, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the tomato sauce, stirring until well combined; cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

3. Cut dough into 4 equal parts. Flour work surface and rolling pin; roll and stretch 1 section of dough into a 6- to 7-inch round. Place 1/4 the filling and 1/4 the cheese on half of the round, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter of the dough free. Dampen fingertips and brush edges with water. Fold dough over to enclose filling, and pinch the dampened edges together. Brush outside lightly with egg white and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat using remaining 3 pieces of dough and the filling.

4. Bake 25 minutes, until dough is lightly brown and sounds hollow when tapped. To serve, cut in half.

Makes 4 large calzones; 4 to 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each calzone 551 calories, 34 g protein, 69 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 844 mg sodium

2. CHICKEN PARM

1 1/2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce, divided

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

1 large egg white

1 pound thin-sliced boneless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-11-inch baking dish with cooking spray; spoon about half the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish.

2. Combine 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the bread crumbs in a bowl; place the egg white in another bowl and beat lightly. Dip each piece of chicken first in the egg white, then in the Parmesan-bread crumb mixture.

3. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick pan over medium high. Add the chicken in a single layer, working in batches, if necessary. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until golden; place on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over and around the chicken; top each piece with the remaining grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is heated through, about 7 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 314 calories, 35 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 816 mg sodium

SHRIMP ARRABBIATA

8 ounces linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound large shrimp, peeled

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chili

1/2 to 1 seeded, minced jalapeño (to taste)

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

1. Cook linguine according to package directions.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the shrimp and red pepper flakes; cook 2 minutes on each side, until shrimp is just cooked through. Transfer to a pan.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet; add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 to 60 seconds to soften. Add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the jalapeño and parsley, remove from heat. Stir in the shrimp, toss with linguine and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 393 calories, 24 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1,205 mg sodium