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A chickpea flour flan with lots of vegetables, also perfect for using the leftover vegetables in the fridge: try the Chickpea and Vegetable Flan.

I love this recipe that a friend taught me because it not only allows me to have a one-course meal that is perfect for diabetes and coeliac disease, but also because I can prepare it using just one pot! Thanks to the Berndes pot I found at my friend Michela’s store, I Love My House, you can in fact cook the vegetables on the stove first, then complete the recipe by putting the pot in the oven.

The vegetables I used are just an indication, but you can use your favourite vegetables or any vegetables that you may have in small quantities: a tasty and easy anti-waste recipe.

Furthermore, the leftover flan is a perfect lunch box to take to the office or to school.

If you’re running out of ideas for lunch boxes, here are some ideas.

Chickpea and vegetable flan

carbohydrates 11g per 100g

sformato-di-ceci-e-verdure

Ingredients for a 28cm flan

  • 600g water
  • 200g chickpea flour*
  • 150g Tropea onions
  • 150g courgettes
  • 150g carrots
  • 80g Swiss chard
  • 30g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and pour the water over it in a trickle stirring with a whisk so that no lumps form. Let the batter rest for at least 3 hours.
  2. Slice the Tropea onions and brown them in a non-stick pan suitable for use in the oven too; add the julienne-cut carrots and courgettes, then a few tablespoons of water to prevent the vegetables from frying. Stir well, cook for a few minutes, then add the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat when the Swiss chard has wilted.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil to the chickpea batter, then pour it into the pan containing the vegetables and bake in a convection oven preheated to 160°C for 25 minutes.
  4. Open the oven, sprinkle the surface with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of oil, then put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve the flan warm cut into slices.

sformato-di-ceci-e-verdure

Version with gluten of Chickpea and vegetable flan

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

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.

Patties and meatballs are always a guarantee of success, so I’m constantly seeking alternative ingredients to meat to make some tasty, quick and easy ones: find out how to prepare Eggplant patties with yoghurt sauce.
The inspiration for this recipe is a dish prepared by some Sicilian friends where I modified some steps and ingredients to make my patties as light as possible so that they can be suitable for frequent consumption. Since they are vegetable-based and I didn’t want to add egg, you will struggle a bit to give them a regular shape, but don’t worry too much about their aesthetics because the taste will overshadow it.
I wanted to propose a yoghurt sauce to accompany the patties so that you can also serve them as an appetiser or aperitif, but served with a vegetable side dish they will also be perfect as a main course.
And if you love meatballs, have fun browsing the session Meatballs and Patties of the blog.

Eggplant patties with yoghurt sauce

carbohydrates 13.5g per 100g of patties without sauce

Ingredients for the patties

  • 650g eggplant
  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • 40 g breadcrumbs** plus breadcrumbs for breading
  • 35g almonds
  • 30g celery
  • 1 tablespoon desalted capers
  • chopped cumin, coriander and green pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 200g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 40g soy milk*
  • 10g seed oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of pistachio paste
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Dice the eggplants, sprinkle them with salt and place them in a colander to draw out moisture for about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the moisture from the eggplants with paper towels, then put them in a wok with a little oil. Wilt them over high heat, stirring frequently, and add the halved cherry tomatoes, continuing to stir occasionally until the eggplants are cooked.
  3. Blend the almonds to a flour, then add the chopped celery, desalted capers, eggplants and cherry tomatoes in the blender and blend until smooth; thicken by adding the breadcrumbs, season with salt, pepper and chopped spices to taste.
  4. Form patties with a teaspoon and coat them with breadcrumbs, then place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, drizzle with a little oil and bake in a convection oven preheated to 200°C until golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the yoghurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  6. Serve the patties with the yoghurt sauce as an appetiser or with a vegetable side dish as a main course.

Polpette-di-melanzane

Version with gluten of Eggplant patties with yoghurt sauce

Replace gluten-free breadcrumbs with standard breadcrumbs, no other adaptation is needed.

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

When talking about white wine in the strip of land from Parma to Piacenza, the first thought is Malvasia because this grape, whether vinified to obtain a sparkling, still or raisin wine, gives rise to an Aromatic Malvasia that is perfect for dishes prepared with local ingredients, just like this Cous cous with lentil sauce.

Aromatic Malvasia: Emilia lifestyle

Malvasia is part of the Emilia everyday life and in the province of Piacenza, in September, this wine is celebrated at the Valtidone Wine Fest, four weekends dedicated to wine & food living, i.e. dedicated not only to the discovery of local wines, but also of typical gastronomic specialities and of the historical-cultural heritage.

To enrich the festival with new ideas for dishes to be paired with Malvasia Aromatica di Candia dei Colli Piacentini, the organisers asked the Italian Food Blogger Association to select 30 Italian Food&Wine Bloggers to create a recipe with the ingredients of a Mystery Box containing food products from Piacenza and a bottle of wine selected by the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori dei Colli Piacentini involving its local wineries.

Did you see what my Mystery Box contained? My protagonist is a bottle of Malvasia Aromatica di Candia, which I am expected to pair with a recipe prepared using at least 2 of the following ingredients: Pancetta piacentina, Borgotaro Porcini mushrooms, Valtidone saffron, honey and shallots.

My Malvasia di Candia is produced by the Mossi 1558 Winery and bears a decidedly romantic name: Baciamano, i.e. hand-kissing, because it is gallant and sensual, just like this ancient gesture, characteristics that have enabled it to be awarded the Gold Medal by both The Wine Hunter and the Japan Women’s Wine Awards.

My recipe to be paired with Aromatic Malvasia

My recipe is the result of combining ingredients I generally use in the cooler months of the year with cous cous, a dish I love to enjoy in summer because it enables me not to use the oven and to prepare fast and tasty one-course meals. Since the perfect one-course meals for my children are prepared with pulses and vegetables, here is my culinary proposal to be paired with Malvasia Baciamano.

Its spicy aroma pairs perfectly with the notes of shallot and dried Porcini mushrooms. Its intense flavour with marked acidity complements this dish whose personality is enhanced by the unmistakeable sapidity of a super crispy Pancetta that completes the sensory experience of a cous cous that we can serve in any season of the year never feeling to have prepared something wrong.

Cous cous with lentil sauce and crispy Pancetta paired with Malvasia aromatica di Candia Baciamano

Cous cous with lentil sauce and crispy Pancetta paired with Malvasia aromatica di Candia Baciamano

Cous cous with lentil sauce

19.44g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4-6 servings

  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 200g Chickpea and red lentil Cous cous Bia*
  • 200g carrots
  • 150g lentils
  • 60g Pancetta piacentina*
  • 15g dried Porcini mushrooms
  • vegetable or meat stock*
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • dried oregano
  • 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. Prepare the cous cous adding 200g warm slightly salted water to the cous cous; leave to rest for about 15 minutes, then separate the cous cous grains well using a fork.
  2. Soak the Porcini mushrooms in lukewarm water.
  3. Boil the lentils in plenty of slightly salted water for about 25 minutes, then drain them.
  4. In a large pan, heat up 20g of extra virgin olive oil and brown the finely chopped shallot and the cloves of garlic. Add the carrots sliced in rounds and the soaked mushrooms in small pieces; allow to sauté for some minutes, then add totamo sauce and oregano and cook for 15 minutes. Finish adding the boiled lentils, some ladles of stock to cover the lentils with liquid, then cook for another 15 minutes or anyway until the lentils are perfectly cooked. Remove the cloves of garlic.
  5. Cut Pancetta into strips of the desired size; put it in a frying pan (better if a steel pan like the ones used to prepare amatriciana sauce) with a dribble of oil until the strips are perfectly crispy. Drain the strip from the fat that has melted.
  6. Serve the cous cous topping it with the lentil sauce and complete with the crispy Pancetta strips. Enjoy the recipe pairing it with a glass of Malvasia Baciamano.

Version with gluten of Cous cous with lentil sauce

This recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, however you may decide to replace the type of cous cous used.

Sometimes it is just an idea that gives a standard dish an extra touch, so a rice salad can turn into a colourful lunch to deal with the summer heat: here is a perfect summer recipe, my Venere rice salad in a glass.

The rule I am following these days with no air conditioning in my kitchen is just one: no oven, unless I have to bake bread. So, here is a one-course meal ready in 30 minutes, unless the cooking time for your rice takes longer.

Furthermore, if you like this summer recipe idea, use your creativity to invent many other rice salads layering them in a glass to make your table unique and fun for your table companions.  Have a look at these Venere rice towers  to find inspiration!

Summer recipe: Venere rice salad in a glass

9.5g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the courgettes cream

  • 300g courgettes
  • 170g water or vegetable stock*
  • 100g leek
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil
  • a bunch of basil
  • some mint leaves
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the mozzarella mousse

  • 400g cow’s milk mozzarella
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil
  • water

Ingredients for assembling 4 glasses

  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 100g Venere rice
  • basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Cook the Venere rice in lightly salted water and drain it when it has the perfect texture to be eaten, then lay it out to cool quite quickly.
  2. In the meantime, chop the leek and sweat it in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil, add the chopped courgettes, allow them to gain flavour for a minute, then add the water, basil and mint and cook for 12-13 minutes.
  3. Pour everything in a blender, blend to a smooth cream and season with salt and pepper. Put aside.
  4. Place the chopped mozzarella in a large, tall glass, add 4-5 tablespoons of water and start blending with an immersion blender (ideal for the texture is to use a Bamix) while also pouring in the extra virgin olive oil in a trickle. If the mozzarella cream is too hard, add a few more tablespoons of water while continuing to blend until it is soft and creamy like a mousse. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the cherry tomatoes into 4 wedges, season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Now assemble the glasses: pour the courgette cream on the bottom, form a layer of Venere rice, a layer of mozzarella mousse, the chopped cherry tomatoes and finally decorate with a few basil leaves.

insalata di riso venere in bicchiere

Version with gluten of the summer recipe: Venere rice salad in a glass

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

 

Since the heat does not leave us this summer, I am constantly looking for cold recipes that can satisfy the palate, be healthy and above all be pleasantly refreshing, which is why I propose the Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons, this time paired with a fantastic wine!

In fact, a dear friend who knows my passion for wines gave me a bottle of Viognier Linea Ars Magna by Omina Romana vintage 2017, for which I wanted to create an ad hoc recipe. So here is my pairing because its intense and complex bouquet of aromatic herbs goes perfectly with the sweet scent of peppers, enlivened by the savouriness of anchovies and slivers of 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that masterfully reflect the mineral note that the wine draws from the volcanic soils where the vines grow.

The recipe is rich in fibre thanks to the peppers and lentils, it is also an excellent source of vitamins, the anchovies provide us with Omega 3, and the 36-month Parmesan cheese not only allows us to get calcium, but also makes the recipe suitable for those who are intolerant to dairy proteins: in short, a “supplement recipe”  as my friend Alessandra Bosetti, clinical dietician at the Buzzi Hospital in Milan, would call it, just like the Venere rice towers with almond cream and tomatoes.

When staying in the city while others are on holiday, the best way to treat oneself to a few moments of pleasure and relaxation is to indulge in good food and a glass of wine of those that remain in the memory file like photos taken in summer.

Omina romanaViognier

Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons

12.74g carbohydrates per 100g of Cream of peppers and lentils without croutons

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1kg bell peppers (2 red and 2 yellow)
  • 100g hulled lentils
  • 2 slices of gluten-free wholemeal bread**
  • 30g Parmigiano Reggiano 36 months old
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chili
  • salt and pepper
  • edible flowers for decoration

** Ingredients specific for celiacs

Preparation of Cream of peppers and lentils

  1. Clean the peppers, cut them in half, remove the stalk, seeds and white filaments, then cut them into quarters and place in the oven under the grill at 200°C until the skin is slightly dark. Seal the peppers in a paper bag and, when cold, peel and set them aside.
  2. Boil the lentils in lightly salted water until cooked: with hulled lentils it will take about 15 minutes. Drain and leave them to cool.
  3. Place a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, melt the anchovies drained from oil and when melted, add the diced wholemeal bread and toast it well on all sides.
  4. Now prepare the cream by putting the peeled peppers and lentils in a blender and when you have obtained a smooth and even cream, add salt, pepper and chilli.
  5. Divide the cold cream into 4 bowls, sprinkle the surface with Parmesan shavings and the anchovy croutons, then top with edible flowers.

crema di peperoni e lenticchie

Version with gluten of Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons

For the gluten-free version of the recipe, replace the gluten-free wholemeal bread with standard bread.

 

It is my friend Anna Gallo who takes me on a journey to her native land, Calabria, giving me a beautiful bread bag from the art textile workshop Mario Celestino of Cosenza. And that is how I came up with the idea of preparing a dish that combines land and sea, a dish where squid meets ‘nduja, the undisputed queen of the tip of our boot: Calamari in fish soup with ‘nduja.

Calabria is definitely the region where red is the colour that paints the table, and it does so with chilli, the star ingredient of the ‘nduja, the sausage prepared by mixing pork meat and other spices, but also of the Sardella, a spicy cream made from whitebait, as well as many other specialities, and textiles and local handicrafts.

So let’s paint our tables red and add a little spice to life!

Calamari in fish soup with ‘nduja

negligible carbohydrates per 100g without bread

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1kg squid, cleaned
  • 100g white wine
  • 30g slivered almonds*
  • 20g ‘nduja*
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 2 small sprigs of marjoram
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 lemon with edible peel
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • homemade bread**

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Cut the cleaned squid with beaks and eyes removed into strips and sauté them in a frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and the chopped clove of garlic. Sprinkle them with white wine and let it evaporate.
  2. Add the ‘nduja and cook for 5 more minutes: taste the squid and turn off the heat when they are soft because prolonged cooking makes them rubbery.
  3. In the meantime, toast the slivered almonds and use them to top the squid, also season with chopped parsley, marjoram leaves and a grating of lemon peel.
  4. Serve the fish soup with slices of toasted homemade bread.

calamari in brodetto alla nduja

Version with gluten of Calamari in fish soup with ‘nduja 

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