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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
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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.

 

 

A super tasty idea for out-of-home meals that will not make you feel guilty when eating: Lentil and chickpea burgers, the vegetarian alternative to one of the most popular dishes amongst young people.

These vegetarian burgers are an excellent way of eating legumes in a less common preparation, which is so tasty that it may conquer even those who are not very fond of lentils and chickpeas.

This lunch box is rich in plant proteins and fibre, which leads to long lasting fullness and low glycemic index, elements that will turn this lunch box into a great companion for many meals!

Follow me in order not to run short of ideas for out-of-home meals and have a loot at my recipe of Legumotti with vegetable ragout and Jerusalem artichokes.

Lentil and chickpea burgers

62g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 110g lentils, boiled
  • 100g chickpeas, boiled
  • 1 Tropea onion
  • 40g leek
  • 20g breadcrumbs** + breading
  • 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar of Modena
  • pickled cucumbers*
  • string beans or other vegetables in season
  • paprika
  • chilli pepper
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Sauté the chopped leek in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, then put it in a blender with the lentils and boiled chickpeas; blend to a cream.
  2. Add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, the breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli pepper, salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Slice the Tropea onion and brown it in a non-stick pan with a little oil, a pinch of salt and finally douse it with balsamic vinegar from Modena.
  4. Pour a trickle of oil in a non-stick frying pan and another trickle on the palm of one hand to easily form a burger with the lentil and chickpea mixture.
  5. Cover the burger with breadcrumbs and brown it on both sides in the pan with the oil.
  6. Assemble the lunch box by placing two burgers, Tropea onion, sweet and sour cucumbers and complete with boiled green beans or other vegetables in season.

burger di lenticchie e ceci

What could be more satisfying than a dessert prepared without the addition of sugar and with two of the most delicious ingredients par excellence, chocolate and cherries? The answer is: this Chocolate and cherry ganache, the pleasure of a dessert without the (or perhaps it is better to say ‘with very little’) guilt!!!

Yes, because while this fantastic recipe does not include added sugar and cream, it does not mean that it is calorie-free because it is made with avocado and chocolate, but at the same time, it is calories from nutritionally valuable foods.

Avocado is in fact rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (therefore good for our organism), antioxidants (it is no coincidence that it is used in many cosmetic products), vitamins, fibres and mineral salts, so much so that it has an anti-inflammatory function on our body: a true natural supplement. Moreover, for some years now, its cultivation has been spreading to Sicily and Sardinia, making its consumption much more environmentally sustainable for us Italians.

As far as chocolate is concerned, the choice you have at your disposal is very wide, so buy your favourite chocolate considering a cocoa percentage of no more than 55-60% (otherwise you will feel the need to add some sugar to the preparation) and perhaps lactose-free for those who are lactose intolerant: in short, Chocolate and Cherry Ganache is really the dessert for everyone, considering that with the right chocolate it is also suitable for vegans.

Also, since the cherry season is, alas, always too short for such a delicious fruit, indulge yourself with any other fruit to make the accompanying sauce, perhaps following the recipe for Panna cotta with berries.

Chocolate and cherry ganache with no added sugar

 18.83g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for chocolate ganache for 4 servings

  • 200g avocado pulp (approx. 1 avocado)
  • 120g chocolate with no added sugar*
  • 25g bitter cocoa*
  • water, if needed
  • edible flowers for decoration (optional)

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

Ingredients for the cherry sauce

  • 400g cherries
  • the juice of 1/ 2 lemon
  • water

Preparation 

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or microwave, then let it cool down.
  2. Put the avocado pulp in the blender with the cocoa powder and melted chocolate: blend to obtain a smooth and fluffy cream adding a few tablespoons of cold water if it is too hard.
  3. Stone the cherries and place them in a non-stick pan with the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water over high heat so that the cherries release some of their juice: this will take about 5 minutes.
  4. Assemble the cups by placing a portion of chocolate ganache and the cherries with their cooking liquid as a complement: you can serve them cold or warm as you like.

ganache di cioccolato e ciliegie

Version with gluten of Chocolate and cherry ganache with no added sugar

This recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptations are necessary.

Quinoa surprises are a way for me to use vegetables, definitely my favourite ingredients! For each season, we have a great variety of them, allowing us to indulge in their preparation. Yet, sometimes there is a lack of ideas for preparing something tasty in front of which the kids do not turn up their noses.

Round courgettes are loved by young and old alike because they are perfect for filling with anything we like, so mine is just one of hundreds of possible filling solutions.

The version prepared with quinoa, one of Latin America’s super foods (see its history) also popular in our country due to its high protein, Omega 6 and Omega 3 content, makes the recipe a perfect one-course meal for both lunch and dinner. Personally, I prepared the recipe in a vegan version, i.e. without adding melted cheese, and offered it for dinner to my hungry family members, and Gaia’s blood sugar behaved very well throughout the night, which made us enjoy the dish even more.

Quinoa surprises   

carbohydrates 6.2g per 100g

Ingredients

  • 4 large round courgettes (total weight when emptied 1kg)
  • 300g tomato sauce
  • 120g celery
  • 90g carrots
  • 80g quinoa (cooked in 240g water)
  • 70g shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • chili
  • cheese cubes melting (optional)

Preparation

  1. Put quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse it thoroughly, then pour it in a small pan with three times its own weight of water. Slightly salt the water, put everything on the heat and cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes with the lid on until it has completely absorbed the water. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.
  2. Take the round courgettes, cut off the top part so that the courgettes are divided into 2 parts: a small one at the top and the large part underneath from which you will remove the pulp (you can use this to make vegetable soups). Sprinkle the inside of the courgettes with salt, place them with their tops on the side on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Once taken out of the oven, remove the water that will have formed inside the courgettes, then set them aside while you prepare the filling.
  3. Slice the shallot, put it in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil together with the garlic clove, then add the tomato sauce and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Put a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the diced celery and carrot; season with salt and pepper. Now season the quinoa with the tomato sauce and sautéed vegetables; season with salt, pepper and chilli.
  5. Fill the courgettes with the quinoa, pressing it lightly into them. If you like, you can put a few cubes of cheese melting on top of the quinoa before covering each courgette with its own cap (personally, I did not add anything because I did not want to add cheese to this meal), then bake in a hot oven at 200°C for about ten minutes or for 5 minutes under the grill.
  6. Serve the courgettes hot with a drizzle of olive oil.
Le zucchine ripiene di verdure e quinoa

Courgettes stuffed with vegetables and quinoa

Version with gluten of Quinoa surprises

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

Epiphany is coming and with it the end of the holiday season. Along with a stocking full of tempting sweets and games for the little ones, you can celebrate this anniversary with something really good and tasty: gluten-free Cabbage and spinach bread balls.

This dish is just what we need when we have some leftover bread, it is a typical peasant food that gives us simple yet extraordinary flavours. And peasant foods mean not only no-waste cuisine, but also easy-to-find and inexpensive ingredients, so you can’t wish for more!

For gluten free Cabbage and spinach bread balls you will just have to be a little patient when making the bread balls because the dough will be rather soft and sticky, but remember that when you eat them you will not regret the effort for a second!

Cabbage and spinach bread balls

carbohydrates 20.55g per 100g of cooked bread balls without seasoning

Ingredients for 9 bread balls

  • 150g stale bread** (I used this Mixed leavening bread)
  • 130g milk
  • 100g cooked spinach
  • 100g cabbage
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g multi-purpose flour mix, brand Maximum Zero**
  • 30g shredded cheese (I used pecorino romano cheese I had in the fridge)
  • 30g leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil, pepper, grated Parmesan cheese, butter, sage, salt and nutmeg to taste

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Cut the stale bread into cubes and soak it in milk, turning it occasionally.
  2. In the meantime, sauté 1 clove of garlic and the chopped leek with a little oil in a non-stick pan, then add the thinly sliced cabbage and the cooked (or frozen) chopped spinach. Season with salt and pepper and cook. Remember to remove the garlic.
  3. Put the vegetables in a food processor, chop them well, then add the soaked bread and continue chopping for a few seconds to reduce the bread to small pieces. Add the eggs while stirring, the cheese cut into very small pieces and the flour to a fairly firm texture.
  4. Let the mixture rest for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Now form the bread balls.
  6. There are two ways to proceed: lightly grease your hands and form balls of about 5cm in diameter to be placed on a tray, or cut out squares of cling film, place a spoonful of the mixture on them and form the ball by closing the film. The second option is to freeze the dumplings, so it will be very easy to remove the foil when you decide to cook them by throwing them directly into boiling water.
  7. In a small saucepan, melt a piece of butter with a few leaves of sage.
  8. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, cook the dumplings in it for about 15 minutes, drain them with a slotted spoon.
  9. Season the bread balls with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of sage flavoured butter, then serve.
canederli-verza-e-spinaci-senza-glutine-ph-chiara-marando

Cabbage and spinach bread balls

Version with gluten of Cabbage and spinach bread balls

Replace gluten free bread with standard bread.

Cold we do not fear you! When the days start to get shorter and the evening air gets crisper, we warm up with something tasty and healthy, just like a Romanesco broccoli cream.

Velvety, fragrant and delicious, here is this very easy recipe to prepare a creamy vegetable soup.

In addition to its characteristic cauliflower flavour that is generally milder than common cauliflower, the Romanesco broccoli looks like a sculpture of oriental art: its florets are so perfect that they are bewitching, and the bright green colour completes the effect.

Try it with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for seasoning and some croutons for full satisfaction. For other soups, have a look at this lentil recipe.

Romanesco broccoli cream

1.57g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients

  • 1 litre of water
  • 650g Romanesco broccoli
  • 165g onions
  • extra virgin olive oil, salt and (optional) curry

Preparation

  1. Put the sliced onion in a pan with oil, then add the broccoli florets and, if you want a spicy flavour, half a tablespoon of curry powder.
  2. Let it season for a few minutes, cover with water and cook for about 30 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Blend everything, adjust salt and serve with a drizzle of oil and some croutons.
Crema di cavolo romanesco

Romanesco broccoli cream

Version with gluten of Romanesco broccoli cream

This recipe is naturally gluten-free, so it needs no adaptation.

Today we revisited a great classic of summer cuisine to turn it into a Travel Caprese.

The recipe we are proposing, however, is a ‘travel’ version, because the mozzarella enclosing a tasty little surprise reminds us so much of suitcases, which almost always contain something to eat… at least ours!

The concept of the small surprise is also found in Supplì Viva l’Italia.

But in particular, this Caprese can be a perfect idea to prepare when about to leave on a trip, so with little time for cooking!

Travel Caprese

negligible carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients

  • 4 mozzarellas of cow’s milk or buffalo milk (I got the 250g ones)
  • 80g ripe tomatoes
  • 80g drained tuna
  • 8 pitted olives*
  • salt and basil

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

Preparation

  1. Cut the mozzarellas so that they are divided into two parts, one of which is to serve as the lid.  Then cut the tomatoes into pieces, remove the seeds, salt them and make sure they release part of their water.
  2. Using a knife, empty the inside of the larger half of the mozzarella and lightly salt the inside, then fill it with tomato pieces, drained tuna, olives cut in half and basil.

Caprese-da-viaggio-blog-uno-chef-per-gaia

  1. Put the mozzarella lid on and, if necessary, fix it with a toothpick and garnish with a basil leaf. Use the inside of Mozzarellas to prepare a salad or to top a pizza.

Caprese-da-viaggio-blog-uno-chef-per-gaia

Version with gluten of Travel Caprese

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