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Healthy, Hearty Italian Dinner

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“Flexible quantities and the ability to use pre-prepared, canned, and frozen ingredients make this flavorful, veggie-filled meal go together quickly and easily. Chop up an onion, mince a garlic clove, open a few bags, jars, and cans and it will be simmering on the back of the stove in no time. Yet it tastes as if you’d been cooking all day. Meatless as written, it’s suitable for Lent, but there is no reason not to add whatever cooked meat you have on hand. Look at the optional ingredients suggestions for additional possibilities to use any other vegetables you happen to have on hand. Additionally, I’ve included a recipe for preparing polenta to go under the sauce, but you could put it on pasta if you prefer after the contest. Note: Low fat if you use restraint with the olive oil. Note: Can be made in the crockpot if you prefer.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Brown onions and baby carrots in a little olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Stir in other vegetables and toss well.
  3. Add spaghetti sauce, stock, vermouth, and herbs. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer until carrots are fully cooked and flavors are blended – about 30 minutes though it can hold as long as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  5. If the sauce is too thick for your tastes add additional stock, tomato juice, or V8.
  6. If the sauce is too thin for your tastes add tomato paste or simmer, uncovered, until it thickens.
  7. To prepare the polenta, first slice about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.
  8. Lightly grease a griddle with olive oil. Heat it on medium to medium-high heat.
  9. Brush the polenta slices with olive oil as well.
  10. Brown both sides of the polenta on the hot griddle then sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
  11. Serve sauce over polenta and top with Parmesan.
  12. If you like, you can round out the meal with a green salad and garlic bread.
  13. Note: Feel free to add cooked chicken, browned ground beef, browned sausage, cooked pork, or whatever leftover meat you have if you don’t want a meatless dish.
  14. Note: If you are adding leftover vegetables that have already been cooked add them at the last 10 minutes so they don’t overcook.
  15. Note: This can be made in the crockpot but may require you to reduce the amount of stock. Brown onions and carrots first for the best flavor.

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