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Rocco DiSpirito's Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs

(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.

Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar


  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium heads radicchio, cut in quarters from top to stem
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Pour 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large mixing bowl and toss the radicchio to coat.
  • Place cut-side-down in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, then turn.
  • Cover, place in the oven, and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over low heat and add the garlic.
  • Cook until it is golden, about 2 minutes, add the parsley, and stir.
  • Turn off the heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Place 2 pieces of radicchio on each of 4 plates and top with the parsley and garlic mixture.
  • Drizzle with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Fresh Beans with Pesto & Ricotta Salata


  • Salt
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups fresh yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1-1/2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ounce ricotta salata, shaved


  • Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
  • Sdd the green and yellow beans and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Drain the beans and place them in a bowl filled with ice and water to stop the cooking.
  • Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel and place them in a large bowl.
  • Combine the olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmigiano in a small food processor.
  • Blend until smooth, then add the basil and pulse until it is chopped but not pureed smooth.
  • Add the pesto to the beans and toss to coat evenly.
  • Divide the beans among 4 plates and top each with ricotta salata.

Panna Cotta


  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 packets stevia, such as Stevia In The Raw
  • 3 tablespoons raw agave nectar
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt, such as Fage Total 0 percent Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons sugar-free caramel syrup, such as Smucker's


  • Place the cream in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.
  • Pour the milk into a small saucepan 3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a small knife, landing them directly in the pan
  • Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat 6. Add the cream and gelatin mixture, the stevia, and the agave nectar and whisk until everything is dissolved.
  • Whisk in the yogurt but do not aerate 8. coat the inside of 4 six-ounce plastic molds (you can use cleaned-out individual yogurt containers) with one second of cooking spray each.
  • Divide the cream and yogurt mixture among the molds and place them in the freezer for 5 minutes to start to set.
  • Remove the molds from the freezer and transfer them to the refrigerator to finish setting, about 20 minutes.
  • Invert each mold onto a small plate 13. Poke a tiny hole in the top of each mold and lift it off the panna cotta.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on and around each panna cotta.

Peaches and Prosecco with Almond Cream


  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon soy lecithin (available at health food stores such as GNC)
  • 4 (4-ounce) glasses rose Prosecco


  • Cut the peaches in half using a sharp knife and remove the pits.
  • Turn the peaches cut-sidedown on a cutting board and cut them into large bite-size chunks.
  • Spoon the peaches into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
  • CombIne the milk, agave nectar, and almond extract in a medium bowl and blend with a hand blender until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the lecithin and blend for about 20 seconds, until it becomes frothy.
  • Spoon some of the mixture over the peaches and serve with a glass of Prosecco.
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