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May brings us two ideas for what we call fortified salads, i.e. salads that are nutritionally complete and therefore perfect as one-course meals for lunch in the office, at school or for dinner.

The rule applies that ingredients must be in season in order to maximise their nutritional contribution, so asparagus and mixed greens, as well as frozen edamame beans, will be the vegetable protagonists of the dishes.

The protein part of our salads is mainly of animal origin, being represented by grilled chicken and egg, not forgetting the contribution of edamame beans, an excellent source of plant protein.

As always, fibre is our best ally and is provided not only by vegetables, but also by buckwheat grains, an excellent alternative to rice and cereals containing gluten (for those who can eat them).

So here’s how to prepare reinforced salads that you can put in your lunch box for an absolutely perfect lunch out.

Discover more ideas for your salads here!

Buckwheat and asparagus salad

carbohydrates 24.48g for the whole serving

insalata-di-saraceno-e-asparagi

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 4 asparagus
  • 40g buckwheat grains*
  • 1 egg
  • 15g Pecorino Romano cheese in very thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Cook buckwheat grains in lightly salted boiling water, then drain and set aside.
  2. Place 4 asparagus in a container suitable for microwave cooking and cook for 4 minutes at maximum power.
  3. Put a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan, break the egg into it and cook for a few minutes until the egg white is cooked.
  4. Assemble the salad by placing the buckwheat grains in a soup plate, add the asparagus cut in pieces; dress with a sauce prepared whisking a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Lay the hot egg on top of the asparagus and complete with very thin slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and a grinding of pepper.insalata-di-saraceno-e-asparagi

Chicken and edamame salad

carbohydrates15.77g for the whole serving

insalata-di-pollo-ed-edamame

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 120g chicken breast
  • 50g edamame beans
  • baby lettuce or mixed greens
  • 15g raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of soy milk*
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise*
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Boil the edamame beans in lightly salted water for a few minutes, then  throw them in cold water. Drain them and set them aside.
  2. Grill the chicken breast. Cut it into strips horizontally.
  3. Prepare the dressing by putting the mayonnaise, lemon juice and soy milk in a small bowl, mix well with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the desired amount of lettuce or mixed greens in a soup plate, add the edamame beans and lay the chicken on top. Season with the mayonnaise emulsion, then top with raisins and pumpkin seeds.

insalata-di-pollo-ed-edamame

Version with gluten of Fortified salads

These recipes contain only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for their 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.

My journey to find tasty and quick salad recipes continues to serve dishes that are always new and today my proposal is two Raw and cooked salads.

Remember that the principle we shoul follow when choosing our salad ingredients is their being in season. So, opening the fruit and vegetable calendar is a must before going to the greengrocer’s because stores are more an more thriving with all sorts of produce even if coming from any other part of the world.

Our star ingredients today are fennels and barilla plants. Fennel is rich of fibre and water, it helps digestion and prevents bloating; it can be eaten in many different ways. It is excellent raw at the beginning of the meal to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates eaten afterwards thanks to the presence fo water and fibre that will also contribute to reduce hunger.

Barilla plants are a shrub that grows between March and May. They are rich in vitamins and antixodants, but especially fibre and water, whereas they are very low in fat, which makes them perfect for low calorie diets and to quench hunger. Unlike fennels, they must be boiled or steamed before eating.

Find out how I used our hero vegetables in two fantastic raw and cooked salads. And if you missed my previous salads, check the recipes of Three 5-minute salads.

Fennel and orange salad with light dressing

carbohydrate 9g for 1 serving

insalata-di-finocchi-e-arance

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 1/2 fennel
  • 50g orange
  • slivers of Piave chees or Emmentaler
  • pomegranate seeds
  • 30g soy milk*
  • 10g rice or extra virgin olive oil
  • orange juice
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredienti specifici per celiaci

*Ingredienti per i quali verificare l’assenza di glutine in etichetta o sul Prontuario AIC

Preparation

  1. Slice the fennel very thinly with a mandoline.
  2. Peel half an orange and cut it into segments and keep the second half to squeeze its juice.
  3. Prepare the dressing: put rice oil, soy milk, orange juice, salt and pepper in a tall container and blend with a hand blender to a texture similar to a runny mayonnaise.
  4. Assemple the salad: put the fennel in the centre of a deep dish, top with the orange segments, slivers of cheese, then dress with the orance sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Salad of Barilla plants with egg and hard Gorgonzola cheese 

carbohydrates for the whole serving negligible

insalata-di-agretti-uova-e-gorgonzola

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 1 bunch of Barilla plants
  • 1 egg
  • 20g hard Gorgonzola cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and papper

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water on the heat, salt it and when it reaches the boil, cook the Barilla plants for a couple of minuters. Drain and throw in cold water, then drain again. Set aside.
  2. Hard boil 1 egg for 9 minutes from when the water starts boiling. Once cooked, shall the egg and separate egg white and yolk.
  3. Assemble the salad: put the Barilla plants in a deep dish, top with the diced egg white, crumble the egg yolk, arrange the hard Gorgonzola cheese cut into small cubes and dress with salt, pepper and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.

 

Today we have come up with a dish that can become a light main course or a perfect side dish to enrich a meal. Simple, genuine, tasty and ideal for any palate: one ingredient and herbs and you’re done, Mint flavoured beans.

Here’s how to prepare them for a fresh, healthy, naturally gluten-free and diabetes-friendly dish, perhaps accompanied by seasonal vegetables. I chose Borlotti beans that are very common in northern Italy, but feel free to pick your favourite beans for this salad.

And if you want an idea for another fresh and tasty salad, try this irresistible Swordfish salad.

Mint flavoured beans

18.56g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients

  • 160g dried borlotti or white beans (soaked for 12 hours)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil, mint, salt and black or pink pepper

Preparation

  1. Boil the beans in water with celery and garlic; once cooked, remove the latter and drain the beans.
  2. Let the beans cool and season them with fresh mint leaves, a good extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper: it is a very simple dish, but really rich in flavour and aroma.

fagioli alla menta

Version with gluten of Mint flavoured beans

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