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What vegetables await you in our April salads? Cauliflower, peas and leek will be the stars with the red touch of strawberries: find out how to prepare them.

Let’s start with an uncommon use of cauliflower: raw. Have you ever tried it? You will be surprised to discover that it is sweet and has a much more delicate smell than when cooked. It is in fact during cooking that the typical sulphurous smell develops, which often makes cauliflower not liked, especially by children. In the first salad, cauliflower is grated to make a tasty, micronutrient-rich couscous with lots of flavour and few calories.

My Quinoa salad, on the other hand, is perfect for a refill of plant protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free pseudo-cereal that has all 8 essential amino acids (i.e. those that must be taken in with food as they are not produced by our body) and therefore has a very similar nutritional profile to foods of animal origin. Moreover, due to its wealth of other micronutrients, it is considered a super-food whose consumption is strongly recommended as an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Remember to rinse quinoa before cooking to remove saponins, substances naturally present in many vegetables, which may cause irritation to mucous membranes, but are completely eliminated by a pre-cooking wash.

If you only have a few minutes available, see how to prepare Three five-minute salads!!

Cauliflower couscous with Radicchio variegato

carbohydrates 14g for the whole serving

cous-cous-di-cavolfiore-uvetta-e-fragole

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 80g cauliflower
  • 40g radicchio variegato di Castelfranco
  • 15g raisins
  • 15g shelled walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 strawberry
  • Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Grate the cauliflower with a coarse-hole grater to obtain a couscous-like consistency.
  2. Wash, dry and cut the Radicchio into pieces.
  3. Assemble the salad by placing the radicchio on the bottom of the plate and the cauliflower couscous on top; season with salt and pepper, oil and traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, then complete by adding the raisins, nuts, seeds and finally the strawberry cut into thin slices.

Quinoa salad with leek and peas

carbohydrates 20.11g for the whole serving

insalata-di-quinoa-e-piselli

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 25g quinoa (weighed raw)
  • 40g shelled fresh peas
  • 30g leek
  • 7g desalted capers
  • chopped basil and sage
  • sun-dried tomatoes*
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Rinse the quinoa under running water and cook it in 75g of lightly salted water for about 20 minutes or until it has absorbed all the water.
  2. Put a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the finely sliced leek and peas in it, adding a few tablespoons of water to cook them. Add desalted capers and chopped basil and sage. When the peas are almost cooked, add the quinoa and season with salt (if necessary) and pepper.
  3. Serve the quinoa topped with a few chunks of sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves.

insalata-di-quinoa-e-piselli

Cous-cous-di-cavolfiore-uvetta-e-fragole

Version with gluten of April salads

The recipes contain only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for their version with gluten.

If you have been to Greece, you cannot have missed the Classic Mussakàs made with eggplants and meat sauce, a one-course meal rich dish that I thought I would revisit to create a lighter, vegetarian version: here is my
Vegetarian Mussakàs
.

This Vegetarian Mussakàs is the perfect substitute for Lasagna for the warmer months when light recipes rich in seasonal vegetables are preferred, but it is also loved by everyone in the family, including the little ones. It is also very useful for those who have to organise family meals, as it can be prepared in advance and then cooked with 30 minutes to spare.

If you don’t like peppers or find them indigestible, replace them with courgettes!

Remember that you can also prepare this recipe lactose-free by replacing the milk in the béchamel with vegetable stock: all other ingredients are lactose-free!

When you have eggplants in season, this recipe will be a dinner-saving one-course meal for every family need: enjoy!

mussakas-vegetariano

Vegetarian Mussakàs

9.26g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 1kg eggplants
  • 450g potatoes
  • 300g red pepper (or courgettes)
  • 200g tomato sauce
  • 150g carrots
  • 120g onions
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • breadcrumbs*
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • basil
  • sage
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 350g milk
  • 35g brown rice flour*
  • 35g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Slice the eggplants and place them on a baking tin lined with parchment paper,  bake in a convection oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes.
  2. Boil the potatoes with their skins on until they are soft enough to be sliced.
  3. Prepare the vegetable ragout browning the garlic in a little oil, then add the diced carrots and peppers; season with chopped basil and sage, add the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Prepare a béchamel sauce by mixing the rice flour with the oil, then gradually add the milk so that no lumps form and heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat, add the Parmesan cheese, mix well and add salt to taste.
  5. Take a rectangular oven dish, form a layer of vegetable ragout, cover it with the wilted eggplants, the sliced potatoes, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and start the layers again: you should have two layers of aubergines and ragout and only one layer of potatoes. Finish with a layer of béchamel sauce and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake the Mussakàs in a convection oven preheated to 190°C for 20-30 minutes until crispy.

mussakas-vegetariano

Version with gluten of Vegetarian Mussakàs

Replace gluten free breadcrumbs with standard breadcrumbs; the rest of the recipe is naturally gluten-free, so no adaptation is needed for the version with gluten.

 

 

Do you know how the recipe for gluten-free Carnival Fried Tortelli came about? By pure chance, while experimenting with doughs for the Cicerchiata cooked live with the Rieti and Viterbo Chamber of Commerce! Among various combinations of flour, egg and sugar, having obtained a beautiful smooth and firm dough, I thought I would try making Tortelli with plum jam.

The result? Delicious fried Carnival Tortelli! And it’s a good thing I had written down all the weights of the ingredients, otherwise I would have missed out on the doses for an ideal dough for a traditional recipe that has always been prepared in my family (usually in a version with gluten) for Mardi Gras.

Here are other recipes you can prepare for Carnival: Cicerchiata, Fried cream e Krapfen with jam.

Gluten-free Carnival Fried Tortelli

54g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 10 Tortelli

  • 150g plum jam*, very firm
  • 100g gluten-free flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut**
  • 100g gluten-free bread flour, brand Mix B Schär**
  • 2 eggs
  • 20-30g milk (add it gradually)
  • 25g sugar
  • 15g butter
  • lemon rind
  • sunflower seed oil for deep frying

Preparation

  1. Pour the eggs into a bowl, beat them with a fork together with the sugar, add the soft butter and lemon zest. Gradually incorporate the flour, stirring with a fork until the mixture is firm enough to knead with your hands. Add enough milk to obtain a firm mixture, then transfer to a cutting board and knead with your hands until you obtain a smooth, homogeneous and non-sticky dough.
  2. Cover it with cling film and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm, place a teaspoon of very firm plum jam on top of the pastry, cover with another layer and cut out the Tortelli with the mould provided. Continue until everything is used up.
  4. Heat the seed oil to a temperature of 170-180°C and deep-fry a few Tortelli at a time, using a skimmer to flip them so that they brown evenly. Drain them well on paper towels.

tortelli-dolci-di-carnevale

Version with gluten of Carnival Fried Tortelli

Replace the BiAglut and Schär flours with equal amounts of 00 wheat flour and adjust the amount of milk added.

Would you like some ideas for out-of-home meals that come directly from the traditions of southern Italy? Here is how to prepare Broad bean puree with vegetables, a very simple dish, but absolutely extraordinary in terms of taste and well-being.

Once prepared, put a serving in the lunch box (I prepared a larger amount to use for the whole family), complete with boiled or baked seasonal vegetables and lunch is served!

Broad bean puree is prepared from dried broad beans, so you can cook it in any season, while the accompanying vegetables will change: have fun changing vegetables! At this time of year, rapini are the stars, so they couldn’t be missing alongside this soft, smooth puree.

Mashed broad beans are certainly more interesting than their more famous potato-based dish as they are rich in plant protein and slow-absorbing complex carbohydrates. Moreover, by accompanying it with vegetables, we will have a high percentage of fibre, our great ally of well-being.

Follow me not to run out of ideas for out-of-home meals and have a look at Legumotti with vegetable ragout and Jerusalem artichokes.

Broad bean puree with vegetables

32.16g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 60g dried broad beans
  • water
  • rapini and other boiled or baked vegetables to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Rinse the broad beans and soak them in water the night before.
  2. Transfer the broad beans to a pan (use the soaking water for kneading the bread!) and cover them with water in such a way to have about 3cm of water above their surface. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the broad beans have dissolved.
  3. Pour the broad beans into a blender and blend them while pouring in extra virgin olive oil in a drizzle to make the puree nice and creamy, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Assemble the lunch box with mashed broad beans accompanied by blanched rapini and other vegetables to taste: I added onion and baked beetroot.

Purè di fave con verdure

Ideas for out-of-home meals are always good because we increasingly eat lunch away from our kitchens. What does our lunch box contain today? An appetising Red rice salad with avocado cream.

Red rice is a wholemeal alternative to white rice, thus an excellent substitute, rich in flavour and, above all, fibre. In this lunch box you will find it paired with a tasty cream of avocado, a fruit rich in antioxidants and cholesterol-friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and a vegetable salad enriched with the Omega 3 of tuna.

Here then is how you can prepare it for another good and satisfying lunch.

Follow me not to run short of ideas for out-of-home meals! And if you are looking for meals with a lower amount of carbs, try my Roastbeef with aubergine cream.

Red rice salad with avocado cream

51.72g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 60g Basmati rice
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 40g drained tuna
  • 40g iceberg lettuce
  • 30g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 30g carrots
  • 30g pitted green olives
  • lemon juice
  • parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Boil the red rice in lightly salted water, possibly making sure that the rice completely absorbs the liquid. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.
  2. Mash half an avocado in a bowl and add Greek yoghurt, season with parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare the salad by cutting iceberg lettuce into strips, grate the carrots, add the pitted olives and dress with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Fill the lunch box by placing the red rice in one of the containers with the drained tuna and the avocado cream, while placing the vegetable salad in the second container. Close it up and take it with you!

riso rosso con crema di avocado

I have already introduced you to the black cherry liqueur Ratafià by the artisan company Scuppoz so today you will discover the second liqueur I love to use in the kitchen, namely the liquorice liqueur which I propose in this Almond panna cotta with liquorice reduction, which is also lactose-free.

Liquorice is Abruzzo’s black gold. In the past, this root was given to children instead of candies because it was just as sweet and available in nature along the paths from the mountains down to the sea.

Scuppoz Liquorice Liqueur is produced in a completely artisan way by infusing liquorice roots, which give the liqueur an unmistakable and harmonious flavour (here you can find the AIC rules for choosing gluten-free liqueurs). The ideal temperature for enjoying this liqueur is the refrigerator temperature, as is also the case in my recipe in which, however, we no longer have alcohol in order to serve it to children too!

Follow Scuppoz’s news on social media (https://www.instagram.com/scuppoz_spirits/ ): you won’t regret it!

panna cotta alle mandorle

Almond panna cotta with liquorice reduction

41.35g carbohydrates per 100g of Panna cotta without liquorice reduction

Ingredients for 4-5 servings

  • 200g vegetable cream*
  • 150g almond milk*
  • 70g sugar
  • 8g gelatine sheets*

Ingredients for the liquorice reduction

  • Scuppoz liquorice liqueur*

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

 Preparation

  1. Soak the gelatine in cold water.
  2. Put almond milk, vegetable cream and sugar on the stove to heat.
  3. Wring the gelatine and add it to the mixture over the heat so that it melts, then stir well and remove from the heat.
  4. Fill moulds of the desired shape, then place them in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the mixture solidifies.
  5. Prepare the liquorice liquor reduction. Put the desired amount in a small pan and when it comes to the boil, let it reduce for a few minutes, then allow it to cool completely. You can decide to put it in the refrigerator until the momento of serving.
  6. Remove the Panna cotta from the moulds and place it directly on the serving plate, then douse it with the liquorice liqueur.

panna cotta alle mandorle

Version with gluten of Almond panna cotta with liquorice reduction

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

When you discover a product that you have never tasted and never heard of before, it is a bit like receiving a gift: so let me introduce Couve Manteiga, the cabbage originally from Brazil, now also grown in Italy, which I have cooked in two mouth-watering versions, namely in Pesto and in Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto, perfect also for the little ones at home.

Couve Manteiga is a broad-leaved plant that is reminiscent, especially in its use and scent, of kale. Its leaves are beautiful and scented and, turned into pesto, give us a truly inviting emerald green colour, while eaten raw they are crispy and spicy with a typical bitter aftertaste.

la foglia di couve manteiga

Couve Manteiga leaves

It is a vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, which is excellent for the diet of those with diabetes as well as for low-calorie diets since 100g contain only 5 carbohydrates and 32 kilo calories.

Personally, I discovered it thanks to the editors of Cuoci Cuoci, a platform where you will find lots of news and recipes, in addition to my proposal of Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto.

If you want to order Couve, you can contact Azienda Agraria Evangelisti  (gabrieleeva@tiscali.it) or order it by phone at: +39 346-324-5132).

Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto

21.5g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the pesto (you will use about half)

  • 200g already blanched Couve Manteiga leaves
  • 30g Pecorino cheese, grated
  • 30g almonds, peeled
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the rolls

  • 300g tomato sauce
  • 200g Stelline Massimo Zero pasta**
  • 8 leaves of Couve Manteiga
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation of pesto

  1. Wash the Couve Manteiga leaves well, remove the central rib and blanch the rest in boiling salted water for about 1 minute, then with a skimmer remove the leaves from the pot and throw them into cold water.
  2. Place the Pecorino cheese and almonds in a blender and blend to a flour.
  3. Add to this flour, 200g of the blanched and slightly squeezed leaves, a drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a little of the cooking water and process in the blender until creamy.

il pesto di couve manteiga

Preparation of rolls

  1. Blanch a further 8 Couve leaves cut in half at the central rib, which you have removed. As with pesto, once blanched, toss the leaves in cold water, then drain and lay them on a tray to dry slightly.
  2. Boil the Stelline pasta in plenty of salted water and, once drained, season them with Couve pesto: the amount prepared is larger than the amount needed to season the pasta, so you can also enjoy the pesto on a slice of toasted bread as an appetiser!
  3. Pour a little oil in a non-stick pan, add the tomato sauce, season with salt and let it cook for a few minutes.
  4. In the meantime, spread out the Couve leaves and stuff them with the Stelline pasta, closing them to form rolls.
  5. Place the rolls in the pan with the tomato sauce, let them season for 5 minutes, turning them and serve hot or warm.

involtini di couve manteiga

Version with gluten of Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto

Replace the Stelline Massimo Zero pasta with a durum wheat pasta, while no other adaptation is necessary.

Are you running short of ideas for out-of-home meals? Here comes another load of recipes for our lunch box ideas for a quick, balanced and tasty lunch to carry with your, wherever you go.

In this way, eating gluten free and counting carbs is no longer a programme, not even when eating out of home, i.e. when meals are always a challenge: the lunch box becomes a travel companion and moment of joy and pleasure.

We found the perfect lunch box for our needs at our friend’s store “I love my house” whom I always ask for help when I am looking for equipment and kitchen solutions: here is where you can find our LUNCH BOX.

Follow me not to run short of ideas for out-of-home meals and watch this vegetarian alternative Venere rice salad with cherry tomatoes and pistachio nuts.

Quinoa salad with Primo sale cheese and salmon

38.6g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 100g green beans
  • 50g quinoa
  • 50g Primo sale cheese or another semi-soft cheese you like
  • 50g smoked salmon
  • 10g shelled walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley
  • salt

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (in Italy they may be listed on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Boil the quinoa in double the amount of water of its weight for about 20 minutes or until the water has been completely absorbed.
  2. Boil the green beans, strain into cold water, drain and cuthttp://unochefpergaia.it/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Insalata-di-quinoa-con-primo-sale-e-salmone-7.jpg into pieces.
  3. Pour a dribble of oil in a non-stick pan and brown a clove of garlic in it, then add chopped parsley and the green bean pieces: allow to gain flavour for a couple of minutes.
  4. Dress the quinoa with the green beans, the cheese in dices, the smoked salmon in slices and the shelled and slightly crushed walnuts; adjust salt if necessary.

insalata di quinoa

Version with gluten of Quinoa salad with Primo sale cheese and salmon

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

 

Here come more ideas for out-of-home meals to be carried in our lunch box for eating at work or at school.  This is a recipe for a Chicken salad with a very low carb content to be thus completed with a source of healthy carbs.

This tasty lunch box contains very few carbs therefore remember to add a slice of wholemeal bread to and a fruits in season for a balanced nutritional intake.  And remember that this Chicken salad with apples and green beans can be a good solution in every season.

This is where we found our LUNCH BOX.

Are you running short of ideas for out-of-home meals! And if you are looking for a lunch with a higher amount of carbs, try my Pasta with chickpea cream and broccoli.

Chicken salad with apples and string beans

8.4g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 180g chicken (this will weigh about 130g once cooked)
  • 60g iceberg lettuce
  • 50g string beans
  • 50g tuna in oil
  • 50g apples
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Tabasco
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (in Italy they may be listed on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Grill the chicken, then cut it into strips and flavour with some drops of Tabasco, salt, pepper, a dribble of extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley.
  2. Boil the string beans and throw them in cold water as soon as they are cooked.
  3. Put the lettuce cut into strips in a bowl, add the apples, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent the apple from becoming dark, add some tuna fillets in pieces and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Complete the lunch box dressing the chicken with string beans in pieces, a dribble of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper as needed.

Insalata di pollo

Version with gluten of Chicken salad with apples and string beans 

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

Here come more ideas for your out-of-home lunch! In our lunch box today, protein, vitamin and fibre are the stars.  What am I talking about? Of a delicious Roast beef with aubergine cream to be served with a slice of bread for a complete, balanced and tasty lunch to take with you for every occasion.

In my ideas for out-of-home meals you find the carb count of the whole lunch box: it will be super easy for our kids to calculate how much insulin to inject and lunch will be a joyful moment to share with friends.

If you need a container to take with you, find here the LUNCH BOXwe use.

Have a look at the recipe to prepare my Venere rice salad with cherry tomatoes and pistachio nuts.

Roast beef with aubergine cream

15.9g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 300g aubergine
  • 140g roast beef, sliced
  • 15g raisins or dried apricots
  • 10g desalted capers
  • 10g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 3 mint leaves
  • aromatic herbs to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (in Italy they may be listed on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Cut the aubergine into dices of a couple of centimetres, sprinkle with salt and put in a strainer to draw out excess moisture.
  2. Pat the aubergine dry with a piece of kitchen paper and sautée it in a non-stick pan with a dribble of oil until cooked.
  3. Blend 2/3 of the eggplant with a tablespoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of oil and 3 mint leaves; adjust salt and pepper, flavour with chopped aromatic herbs to taste.
  4. Dress the remaining aubergine with a tablespoon of vinegar, pine nuts, raisins and capers.
  5. Assemple the lunch box with slices of roast beef topped with aubergine cream and complete with the aubergine salad.

roastbeef con crema di melanzane

Version with gluten of Roast beef with aubergine cream 

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.