Do it yourself – Cook these healthy Mediterranean recipes!

<style=”text-align: center;”>Now that you’re aware of how benefits the Mediterranean diet can provide, we thought that we would help to encourage your new way of eating with some recipes to get yourself started!

To help we have enlisted the help of some top cooks with extensive knowledge of the authentic Mediterranean way of cooking. Try your hand at one and let us know how it goes @TuscanyNow

Francesco RomanoFrancesco Romano:

Running food blog and business CocoDeMama.com, Francesco champions his Italian heritage in reproducing authentic Italian recipes passed down to his from his Grandmother Nonna Sera and Mama Francesca. Born in Italy and now based in the USA as of 25 years, Francesco provided some recipes to getting started on Italian cooking.

“In Italy, the cuisine is based on a few basic ideas—simplicity, freshness and what is local and in season. We eat a lot of simply prepared vegetables, seafood, olive oil and legumes. We use poultry and fish in many dishes. Of course a nice glass of Italian red wine with dinner with your family has been a tradition for centuries, and it is proven to be good for you! Authentic Italian food isn’t masked by fancy sauces; each component is treated like the star of the meal. For example, a tomato tastes like a tomato, and with the addition of herbs and spices, a basic tomato is elevated to a delicious accompaniment to a wonderful entrée. I hope you try this recipe and that it will give you a taste of what the Mediterranean and Italy has to offer.”

Buon Appetito!

Saffron Orzo Pasta

Saffron Orzo Pasta Salad

Ingredients

10 oz Orzo pasta by Barilla

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 teaspoon saffron

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup black oil-cured olives, sliced

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

1 8 oz can Italian chickpeas

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, under oil, drained and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons Parmgiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vinaigrette

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.
  2. In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon of saffron and 2 tablespoons of the hot chicken stock and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add the saffron to the chicken stock and stir.
  4. Add the orzo to the boiling chicken stock and let it cook for 7 minutes.
  5. Drain the orzo, transfer to a bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
  6. Dice red bell pepper, red onion, mozzarella, and set aside.
  7. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into 1/2-inch piece and set aside.
  8. Slice the olives and drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.
  9. In a medium bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the diced onion to the vinaigrette and let it marinate for 5 minutes.
  10. Transfer all of the ingredients into the orzo and mix well, add the vinaigrette and toss well to coat.
  11. Add the Parmgiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley just before serving.
  12. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use.

Judy WittsJudy Witts Francini:

Operating a Tuscan cooking school – Davina Cucina – as well as being an author, food blogger, and creator of the Chianti Food & Wine app, Judy has a wealth of experience of sourcing fresh local produce from the Florentine market where she operates tours. Judy was kind enough to provide one of her recipes.

Truffled Farro Salad

Warm Truffled Farro Salad

Most recipes in Italy are passed on by word of mouth and measurements are not very specific. Use fresh herbs and tomatoes in tiny amounts, pinches, as they are only to accent, not overpower the truffles. Truffle oil may be substituted for the black truffles or even sautéed mushrooms.

Ingredients

10 ounces dried chickpeas

10 ounces farro (spelt)

3 ounces black truffles

Garlic

Basil

Sage

Rosemary

Oregano

Tomato bits

Salt

Pepper

Chili flakes

Parsley

Instructions

1. Soak the chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, changing the water 3 times. (If you use canned chickpeas, rinse them thoroughly!)

2. Cook the chickpeas in the same water for about 1 hour.

3. Cook the farro in lightly salted water until tender.

4. Do not overcook the chickpeas or farro!

5. Finely chop the garlic, basil, sage, rosemary, chili flakes, and oregano.

6. Lightly sauté the herbs in olive oil, then add the tomato bits.

7. Add the drained chickpeas and farro, drizzling with a bit of broth until cooked.

7. Off the flame, stir in the truffles and best served with slices of fettunta.