Cheese is often perceived as decadent, but it can still fall within the realm of healthy if it is used appropriately in low-carb dishes. Best of all, it comes in many different shapes and forms, making it one of the easiest ingredients to use in the kitchen. Let’s take a look at four cheese-based meals you can consider for your own menu as you look to offer on-trend healthy options to your diners.
1. Baked two-cheese penne with roasted pepper sauce.
8 ounces dried whole wheat penne.
2 tablespoons butter.
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
2 cups 1% low-fat milk.
1 ounce smoked Gouda, shredded (about 1/4 cup).
2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup).
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs).
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper.
1 tablespoon plain Greek low-fat yogurt.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, then add the noodles and cook for 7 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium; add butter and cook until butter melts. Add the flour, salt and pepper; cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the flour begins to brown. Stir in the milk, ½ cup at a time, then stir in the cheeses. Finally, add the cooked noodles. Transfer the mixture to a prepared baking dish. Top the noodles with the breadcrumbs, then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. As the noodles are baking, place the roasted bell pepper and the yogurt in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Drizzle it over the dish of baked noodles, and serve.
2. Cheese and olive-stuffed tomatoes.
4 medium ripe tomatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds).
1/2 cup (2 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled.
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil.
Preheat your broiler. Cut the tops off the tomatoes, then carefully scoop out the tomato pulp, leaving the shells intact. Finely chop the pulp, and combine with the remaining ingredients. Place the tomato shells in an 8-inch square baking dish. Divide the pulp mixture evenly among the tomato shells. Broil for 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to blister.
3. “Skinny” baked mozzarella sticks.
12 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese.
1 large egg.
1/4 cup flour.
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs.
2 teaspoons parmesan cheese.
1 tablespoon dried parsley.
Nonstick cooking spray.
Marinara sauce and/or ranch dressing, for serving.
Remove the wrappers and cut the cheese in half to create 24 pieces. Freeze the cheese until it’s hard or frozen (about 30 minutes). In three separate shallow dishes, place the egg, flour and breadcrumbs, each in their own dish. Whisk the egg. In the breadcrumbs dish, add the panko, parmesan and parsley. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with a nonstick cooking spray. Dip the frozen cheese sticks in flour, shaking off the excess. Afterward, dip them into the egg, and coat them with the crumbs. Repeat the process for each cheese stick, placing each stick on the lined baking sheet. Freeze the sheet afterward for at least 15 minutes. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, turn the sticks over, then bake for another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and/or ranch dressing for dipping.
4. Spinach, garlic and mozzarella personal pizza
1/2 cup natural salt-free tomato sauce.
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste.
2 or 3 medium cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press or very finely minced.
2 whole-wheat, sprouted or gluten-free pitas.
1 cup loosely packed spinach or other winter greens, finely chopped.
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into rounds.
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic, then mix well. Place both pitas on a baking sheet. Using a pastry brush or spoon, evenly divide the sauce mixture between the pitas, leaving a ¼-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle them with spinach, then arrange the mozzarella rounds over the top of the greens, dividing both evenly. Bake the pitas for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens are wilted and the mozzarella is melted. Remove them from the oven, then sprinkle with basil, dividing evenly.
Cheese-based dishes don’t have to be packed full of calories. These cheesy menu options can exceed your customers’ expectations for flavor and help your restaurant stay on-trend, offering low-carb options to hungry patrons.
Ovention offers a number of revolutionary ovens that can help you prepare cheesy dishes that will satisfy customers and keep them coming back for more.
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