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Food Feb 20, 2014 - 6:47:56 AM

Heart-Smart Specials Served Up at Morello Italian Bistro for American Heart Month

By Morello Italian Bistro

Morello offers traditional Italian favorites with fresh, healthy ingredients in celebration of

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Greenwich, CT - This February marks the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month, a designation aimed at increasing awareness of heart disease as the nation’s No. 1 killer. Morello Italian Bistro in Greenwich, CT, is doing its part to help this effort by offering sensational seasonal dishes full of heart-healthy ingredients. From appetizers to desserts, Morello’s dishes promise to deliver both delicious and nutritious flavors.

Morello’s contemporary Italian menu is driven by fresh, local ingredients, with dishes frequently changing based on seasonal availability. Winter vegetables like butternut squash, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are just a few varieties of heart-healthy, seasonal produce currently being featured at the restaurant in salads, seafood, meat and pasta preparations.

Jimmy Branigan, general manager of Morello, has selected his favorite dishes on the menu with maximum health benefits for guests to try. As a Type 1 diabetic, Branigan said he’s very careful about what he consumes – and the Morello menu reflects equally health-conscious offerings.

Branigan recommends starting with an order of the tuna tartare with crispy capers, pine nuts, chilies and salsa verde as an appetizer. The high amount of vitamin B6 found in tuna, along with folic acid, helps lower triglycerides – high amounts of which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

For salad, Branigan suggests the wild baby arugula with granny smith apples, almonds, and fresh goat cheese in a grape-juniper vinaigrette. Arugula contains high amounts of vitamins A, C and K, as well as iron and calcium, he said. The salad’s crunchy almonds are high monounsaturated fats, which have been associated with reducing the risk of heart disease.

Morello’s kitchen makes many of its pasta dishes by hand, from pappardelle ribbon noodles to garganelli, the egg-based tubular pasta. The butternut squash ravioli with brown butter features both puréed and diced squash, a winter vegetable high in carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber, which can help protect the body from heart disease.

Branigan suggests the pan roasted Scottish salmon with orange braised fennel, olives and raisins for an entrée. Salmon is commonly known as one of the healthiest types of seafood, high in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. “We cook our fish in olive oil, not butter,” said Branigan. “This is just another way we help keep the calories low and the flavors high in our seafood dishes.”

Accompany any of these dishes with a glass of red wine, long known as a heart-healthy option when enjoyed in moderation. Morello is one of the few restaurants in the area to offer wines by the glass made from the Nebbiolo Italian grape, a red variety predominantly associated with the Piedmont region of Italy. “These boutique wines are full of an antioxidant called resveratrol that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevents blood clots,” said Morello’s sommelier, John Freitas.

For dessert, Morello offers a molten chocolate cake made with dark chocolate and a milk chocolate ganache center served with vanilla gelato. Although dessert may not typically be the healthiest part of a meal, dark chocolate has been shown to have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of blood clots. “This dessert is one of the most popular and one of my personal favorites,” Branigan added. “The rich chocolate with the creamy vanilla gelato makes for the perfect bite.”

To try any of Morello’s heart-healthy dishes this month and all throughout the year, visit the restaurant at 253 Greenwich Avenue. Reservations can be made by calling 203-661-3440.

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