The "wurst" thing about a low-fat diet is the absence of sausage. The very word sausage is associated with rich, fatty mixtures of meat oozing flavorful juices. Turkey sausage may fill the bill for some uses, but it's still a food to use sparingly.

No great quantities are allowed on a low-fat, low-calorie diet anyway, so why not enjoy the real thing in tiny amounts?For example, Italian sausage is so well-seasoned that it can be used to spice up a recipe without featuring it as the main attraction.

Easy Italian Burgers to grill or broil can be made with lean ground round, blended with just one-half pound of Italian sausage, casing removed.

For bulk, add chopped green pepper, onion and sun-dried tomatoes (available in bulk at produce counters).

Stretch a slim Italian burger into a generous portion by showcasing it on top of a nest of spaghetti squash strands, a thick slab of grilled Italian bread or on top of a grilled eggplant slice.

To round out the menu with good-for-you foods, add a garbanzo bean salad with vinaigrette dressing and a sprinkling of grated Romano cheese, freshly sliced peaches for dessert spooned over a split ladyfinger (from a bakery). For an easy Italian touch, sprinkle the ladyfinger (or spongecake slices) with amaretto.

Another way to stretch one-half pound of Italian sausage into eight servings is by combining the browned meat with some bottled marinara sauce, sauteed mushrooms, green pepper, onion and a few sliced black olives. Add a little extra oregano for pizza flavor and pack the filling into crescent roll dough for easy calzones (pastry turnovers).

The little pockets are fun to make and eat out of hand.

Italian Burgers

1 pound ground round steak

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage, casing removed

1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon Italian herb-blend seasoning

Garlic salt, as desired

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese Combine the ground round and Italian sausage with the chopped green pepper, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, herb seasoning, garlic salt and hot sauce. Blend well, using a sturdy kitchen fork, such as a granny fork. If grinding the round steak in a food processor, add the sausage, vegetables and additional seasonings just before the meat is ground to the proper texture.

Form meat blend into six patties and grill over medium-hot coals about 6 minutes per side, or broil to medium-well doneness.

To serve, sprinkle each hot burger with mozzarella. Serve atop a bed of spaghetti squash, grilled slices of Italian bread or eggplant.

Pizza Calzones

1/2 pound Italian sausage, casing removed

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon water

2 (8-ounces) packages refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese