Pasta with Swordfish*

Sometimes I crave for a dish that is completely out of season but so good that I have to make it, against my rule that all the ingredients should be seasonal.
It happened the other day, when I suddenly remembered the delicious recipe that a friend of mine had sent to me before Christmas. Caught in the Holidays rush, I had forgotten about it for weeks but, as soon as I remembered it, my mouth began watering at the idea of trying it before sharing it with you.
I must premise that, because of its history and location, Sicily has one of the best culinary traditions of Italy. Over the centuries, the island has been under Greek, Roman, Germanic, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and even Spanish rule before it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Each culture has left its footprint on the Sicilian gastronomy that, as a result, is a unique blend of exotic and traditional, local and foreign flavors.
Moreover, the island climate allows an incredible variety of crops, which vary from citruses, almonds, olives and pistachios along the coast to mushrooms and berries in the mountains; the Mediterranean seafood is outstanding but, as you move towards the interior, it’s replaced by venison, meat and poultry cooked in distinctive ways, with unique combinations of ingredients. Then are the cheeses, the sweets, the preserves, and the strong wines …
Every bite makes you wonder how somebody came up with such a dizzying mixture of flavors in just one dish. It feels like each new invader wanted to add its own flavors to the local cuisine; then, over the centuries, nobody wanted to renounce to them and they all became part of the Sicilian cooking style.
In Sicily, every meal is a feast or, as a friend of mine likes to say, a challenge because you would like to eat everything.
Just read this recipe and you’ll understand why I’ve classified it under the “indulgence” category. It’s probably not strictly Biological, but certainly worth trying!

*Recipe by Letizia and Max Arcidiacono

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Ingredients:

(serves 4)  S  B  Gf (with rice pasta)

  • 10 oz. of short pasta, preferably Penne
  • 8 oz. of swordfish
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 10 oz .of organic tomato sauce (see my recipe)
  • 1 mature red tomato red round onion
  • one medium round eggplant
  • 6 Tbsp. of Evoo
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup of sweet white
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
  • 1 oz. of grated Ricotta Salata cheese
  • Salt and black pepper Continue reading

Veal Carpaccio with celery

This easy and tasty recipe doesn’t require any cooking since the raw meat is “cooked” by its marinade. Invented in the ’50s by Giuseppe Cipriani, the renowned founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, it’s named after the XVI century painter Vittorio Carpaccio, whose exhibition was happening in Venice when Cipriani created this dish for a Venetian countess.
Carpaccio can be made both with meat (beef sirloin or veal eye of round are ideal) or fish (tuna, halibut, swordfish) and its toppings vary from region to region: in Sicily it’s served with capers, in Piedmont with shaved white truffle, a real delicacy.
I like it with veal because it’s more delicate than beef, topped with Parmesan cheese and celery because these two tastes complement each other.

Carpaccio makes a very good appetizer or a light meal, if completed by a green salad and a warm starch, like potatoes or rice (see my Lemon Rice and Potato Salad recipes)

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Ingredients:

(serves 4)  A  B  Gf

  • 1 lb. of veal, sliced very thin
  • 2 celery hearts
  • 2 oz. of shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Marinade:

  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ground Himalayan salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper (to taste, optional)

Ask your butcher to slice the meat almost paper-thin or, if you have a meat slicer, slice the meat yourself.
Arrange the slices on the serving dishes.
In a small bowl, mix the marinade ingredients and pour it over the meat. Let the meat marinade for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the outer stalks from the celery and use only the tender central part. Wash it, pat it dry and cut it thinly. Arrange the celery on the meat, and lastly shave some Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Beets and feta salad

IMG_4793Ingredients:

(serves 4)  F  W  B  V  Gf

  • 1 bag of organic arugula
  • 2 red beets (cooked)
  • 1 fennel
  • 3 oz. of Feta cheese
  • ¼ cup of roasted pumpkin seeds

Dressing:

  •  2 tsps. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. of  organic honey
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt (to taste, optional)
  • Pepper (to taste, optional)

Trim the leaves from the beets, wash the beets, scrubbing away any dirt, and leave them wet. Wrap them in foil and place them on a cookie sheet. Cook in the oven at 400F for 45/50 minutes. Once cooled, peel them by removing the outer skin with a knife and cut them into small cubes.
Rinse the organic arugula and arrange it on four serving dishes. Cut the Feta cheese into small pieces; arrange these two ingredients on the arugula, together with the pumpkin seeds.
Trim the fennel stalks and wash the bulb. Cut it in half lengthwise and slice it thinly, starting from where you removed the stalks and discarding the hard root end.
Arrange some fennel on each salad.
In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing on the salad.

Enkir Flat Bread

Enkir is a type of small spelt that belongs to a species that first appeared in the Middle East approximately 12,000 years ago.  Being a wild cereal, it has a natural resistance to diseases and stress and therefore it doesn’t need fertilization or pesticides, which is why it is considered to be a true organic cereal.  Its flour has a high protein content and a high level of carotenoids, which give it its characteristic yellow color.
Enkir flour is very digestible and performs best in simple preparations. Since it doesn’t require long rising, it’s perfect for making these easy flat breads.

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Ingredients:

(makes 8 – 10)   A   B   V

  • 2 cups of Enkir flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tsp. salt

Mix the ingredients and knead shortly to obtain a smooth dough.  If the dough is too sticky to knead, add more Enkir flour. Continue reading

Smoked Salmon and Fennel Risotto

The other night I was craving for something new and original and, after browsing recipes for half an hour without finding anything inspiring, I opened my refrigerator hoping to find an idea. Looking at the fennel bulbs that I was planning to cook au gratin (see my recipe), I started to wonder how they would taste in a risotto instead. Probably bland, I concluded. But what if I added to them a stronger flavor? Smoked salmon suddenly seemed the perfect pairing and, since my husband is a very tolerant guinea pig, I decided to try the experiment.
Perhaps because I adore salmon in any possible way, I ended up loving this risotto: it’s healthy, it’s low-calorie, it’s light, it has an appealing look, and it makes a meal in less than half an hour!

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Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  F  W  B  Gf 

  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 4 oz. of smoked salmon
  • 10 oz. of rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • 1 quart of boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp. of butter
  • 3 Tbsp. of EVOO
  • 1 organic bouillon cube
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped

Trim the fennel stalks and wash the bulb. Cut it in four lengthwise, then cut each half in two, Slice it thinly, starting from where you removed the stalks and discarding the hard root end. Continue reading

Chickpea Soup

During a recent trip to Italy, my dear friend Marisa kept praising the products of a flour mill in a nearby village so enthusiastically that we ended up making it the destination of a day trip together.
From the outside the mill didn’t look like much, but I’m used to the deceiving look of some Italian family businesses and I didn’t let the modest appearance of the premises fool me.
It  took one step inside the ancient building to understand what a unique and thriving enterprise it was. Continue reading

Carrot, Squash and Ginger Soup

My Dear Readers,

I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to all those of you affected by the devastation of hurricane Sandy. I hope that you and your families are safe and well, and that your life will soon return to normality.
Meanwhile, I wish I could bring to each and every one of you a bowl of this cozy soup, to warm up your stomach as well as your heart.
You are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Ingredients:

(serves 4)  F  W  V  Gf  B

  • 1 lb. of peeled kabocha or acorn squash
  • 4-5 organic carrots
  • 4 cups  of organic vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow potato
  • 1 small piece of  fresh ginger (approx. 1 inch)
  • 4 Tbsp. EVOO

Cut the squash into four sections and remove the seeds. Peel it with a potato peeler or with a sharp knife. Especially in the case of the Kabocha squash, the skin is very hard so be very careful not to cut yourself. Continue reading

Lentils Salad *

This salad can be eaten warm or cold.
Instead of lentils, you can also use black-eyed peas, soybeans, chickpeas, etc.
It gets particularly high in proteins when you mix two varieties of legumes and rice, for example lentils with rice and kidney beans with chickpeas.
In the summer the dried herbs can be replaced with a handful of fresh basil or cilantro.
In the wintertime, some chopped rosemary adds a warmer taste to this salad.

Ingredients:

(serves 2)  A  V  Gf  B

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cucumber or 1 zucchini squash
  • 6-8 dried tomatoes

Dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Tamari
  • 1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp. Evoo
  • Salt, pepper, turmeric, curry powder, dried herbs

Rinse the lentil and soak them for about 12 hours. Then rinse them again and cook for 20 minutes in vegetable broth, stirring occasionally and adding some water if necessary.
After 10  minutes, add the dried tomatoes and stir.
Transfer the cooked lentils into a serving bowl and stir in a grated cucumber or a grated zucchini squash.
Instead of the grated vegetables you can add a diced fresh tomato or bell pepper.
Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, pour over salad, toss and serve.

* Recipe by Sonja Bachus

Food for Thought

Instead of a new dish, today I’m posting a video worth one thousand healthy recipes, and certainly your time and your consideration.

If you are still thinking that your diet doesn’t affect your health, think again.

In this incredible video, Dr. Terry Wahls talks about her experience defeating MS (multiple sclerosis) with foods commonly found in the paleo diet. She was diagnosed with MS in the year 2000.  Over the course of 7 years Dr. Wahls lost her ability to walk normally and was dependent upon canes to move around. When she wasn’t struggling to move around normally she was forced to use a tilt recline wheelchair. All of this while her memory and cognitive motor skills continued to decline.
Then, in the fall of 2007, she had a very important epiphany. She thought that if she were to dramatically change her diet, and began eating healthy, she may be able to gain the upper hand on MS. She set out to perform a life-or-death experiment on herself based on her findings in the latest animal research.

After having observed on myself the amazing results that a change of diet can make, I’m not completely surprised by the success of Dr. Wahls, although I find it nonetheless astonishing. If you reflect on the premises on which she based her research, next time you are planning your meals you might want to think twice about the kind of food you want to choose.

Regardless of current dietary practices or lifestyle I believe everyone can benefit from watching this amazing TEDx talk that the Doctor gives on her life-changing story:

http://thefutureofhealthnow.ontraport.net/c/2/6857/2700010/4/171/45786/1345298205

 

Swiss Chard with Rice and Poached Egg

This simple and quick recipe combines all you need for a nutritious breakfast or a simple lunch:

  • a leafy green low in calories but high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and rich in minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus;
  • carbohydrates from the rice;
  • proteins from the egg.

I love this dish not only because of its beautiful combination of flavors, but also because the Vitamin C is a poweful antioxidant and the Vitamin K is well known for promoting bone formation and strengthening, making it ideal for middle-aged women (like me).
Ingredients:

(serves 2)  A  V  B  Gf

  • 1 bunch of organic Swiss Chard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. Evoo
  • 2 organic eggs
  • a few drops of vinegar
  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 1 tsp. of sea salt

Wash thoroughly the Swiss chard and chop it into small pieces.  Transfer it into a pot with 2 cups of water, boil it for 10 minutes, and drain it.
Cook the rice in salted water, until al dente (12-15 minutes) and keep it warm.
Meanwhile, warm up the Evoo in a pan, peel the garlic, halve it, remove its green core and sautè it for a couple of minutes into the warm Evoo. Remove the garlic and sautè the Swiss chard for 5-7 minutes.
In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a gentle boil. Lower the heat until the water is simmering. Add a few drops of vinegar and gently break one egg at a time into the water, making sure not to break them. Cook for four minutes.
While the eggs are cooking, divide the Swiss chard onto two serving plates, arranging it to form a ring. Place the rice in the center of the ring and, once they are ready, place one egg on top of the rice, one per plate.
Serve warm.