Rocco DiSpirito's Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs

Rocco DiSpirito at 2012 Matrix Awards Luncheon at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in April in New York
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito prepared his favorite dish - Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs - on "CBS This Morning: Saturday," Sept. 29, 2012.
CBS News

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Rocco DiSpirito, the charismatic 45-year-old celebrity chef from the New York City borough of Queens, is known for heating up the kitchen with his innovative fusion cooking, as well as the dance floor as a fan favorite on "Dancing with the Stars."

He also helped overweight contestants get back their winning figures on "The Biggest Loser."

Now, Rocco's on a mission to change the way we eat.

He has a series of cookbooks titled "Now Eat This!" In the latest installment, " Now Eat This! Italian: Favorite Dishes from the Real Mamas of Italy -- All Under 350 Calories," he recreates more than 90 classic Italian recipes that are healthy and flavorful.

Rocco has also launched a "Now Eat This!" truck, which travels around New York City selling meals created from recipes featured in the cookbooks.

One Italian offering, his Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs, just happens to be Rocco's ultimate dish.

He stopped "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to offer recipes for that and more.

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From "Now Eat This! Italian," by Rocco DiSpirito Copyright 2012 by Flavorworks, Inc.

My Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth, such as Swanson's
  • 1-1/2 cups Redpack tomato puree
  • 1-1/2 cups Redpack diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 ounces lean ground turkey breast, such as Jennie-O
  • 4 ounces 96 percent lean ground beef, such as Laura's Lean
  • 2 ounces extra-lean ground pork, such as Farmer John
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley 1/2 ounce
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups puffed Kamut cereal, such as Arrowhead Mills Salt
  • 6 ounces 100 percent Kamut Intregrale
  • Spaghetti, such as Alce Nero


  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Coat a large skillet with 4 seconds of cooking spray.
  • Add half the garlic and half the onion and a pinch of red pepper flakes, place over medium heat, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add half the chicken broth, half the tomato puree, and half the diced tomatoes; bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Place the eggplant cut-side-up on a broiler pan and broil until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Remove the eggplant from the broiler, place it on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high until tender, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
  • Scoop the eggplant pulp out of its skin and let any excess water drip off.
  • Measure out 1/2 cup of the pulp, then chop it fine.
  • Combine the turkey, beef, and pork in a large bow.l
  • Place the egg white, the remaining chicken broth, remaining onion, remaining garlic, and the parsley in a blender and blend until finely chopped (not pureed), about 30 seconds.
  • Add the mixture to the meat; add the Parmigiano and crumble the Kamut cereal in with your fingers.
  • Add the eggplant, season with salt and red pepper flakes, and mix gently, using a wooden 14. spoon or your hands until it forms a very thick wet paste.
  • Use a tablespoon to measure 16 equal heaping mounds onto a clean work surface and form 16. the mounds into balls with your hands.
  • Coat a large nonstick skillet with 4 seconds of cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add half of the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute.
  • Roll the meatballs and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and gently place in the tomato sauce; coat the pan with another 4 seconds of cooking spray, and brown the rest of the meatballs.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook at a low simmer for 1 hour.
  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Drop the spaghetti in the water and cook according to the package instructions.
  • Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  • Place 4 meatballs on each of 4 plates, then add the spaghetti to the remaining sauce in the pan along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water; cook until the sauce holds well on the pasta.
  • Divide the spaghetti among the plates.

For more of Rocco's recipes, go to Page 2.