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Enjoy lighter side of tasty Italian cuisine

February 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Ask most anyone their favorite Italian food, they're going to tell you pizza, but most likely it's thick-crust double-stuffed meat lovers special. While Americans take the "more is more" attitude, true Italian food does not. "I tried to bring to America the Italian rules, like following the grandmother, the family recipes," said Antonia Mure, chef of Ado in Venice.

At Ado, owner Paolo Cesaro and Mure serve meals like they do in the old country. They make pasta, but in petite portions that accompany colorful produce and lean protein like baked sea bass they call Branzino.

"We just put a little bit of lemon and parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper logically, and we wrap with aluminum foil," Mure said.

This tasty fish is oven-baked and served with a spring favorite - artichoke salad from northern Italy.

Mure slices raw artichoke very thin, then mixes in a little bit of lemon, olive oil, celery, fresh arugula and Parmesan cheese.

The combination provides a nice dose of minerals, heart-healthy fat and solid protein to keep you satisfied.

When it comes to making pasta sauce, a starter called a sofrito is made. Mure said it just takes a little bit of carrots, onions and celery.

The vegetable treasure is added to red wine, bay leaf and choice ingredients that determine if they become bolognaise, ragu and other tasty sauces, like one of Ado's specialties - beet pasta with chicken or quail.

"The quail, it's very nice. It's lean, low in fat," Mure said.

It might be a bit labor intensive for home chefs, but Mure makes it look easy, and it's well worth the effort taste-wise.

The dish is no carb overload.

"This is our tasting portion. It's like an ounce-and-a-half, two ounces of pasta," Mure said.

"We really try to stay close with the Italian experience," Cesaro said.

As they say in Italy, "Enjoy and bon appetito."