January calls for a stock take on eating after the indulgence and excesses of Christmas. The Italian cuisine epitomises a healthy Mediterranean diet however a factor that is sometimes sidestepped is the WAY the Italians eat. Everyday meals are taken seriously and certainly not on the run.
Lunches and dinner are given time and grace and are always seated, accompanied by a glass or two of wine – not excess amounts. The meals themselves are structured to enjoy every ingredient, an antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and lastly dolce. It sounds hefty but portions are not large and ensure that the body receives balanced nutrients. The contorno (vegetable course) is given as much credence as the other dishes and is always served with lemon to increase absorption of vitamins.
The benefits of the Italian approach to eating are well documented. As well as the obvious nutritious advantages, they add to the enjoyment and love of food, conversation over meals diverts from the humdrum of a stressful working day and the company of loved ones contributes to happiness, a stronger sense of well-being and belonging.
With all this firmly in mind, the talented Sophie Braimbridge picks five of her favourite healthy Italian recipes packed with delicious and nutritious ingredients with which to kick start the new year.
First up on Sophie’s list is a delicious recipe for Bagna Cauda. This dip is traditionally used for vegetables, but will add another dimension of flavour to some steaks.
As hearty as it is healthy, minestrone soup is a classic. This recipe adds pesto to the traditional blend of seasonal vegetables to delicious effect.
Perfectly cooking a tuna or swordfish steak can be challenging. Not only does Sophie’s take on it remove the guesswork, but finishes the dish off perfectly with a tasty anchovy and caper sauce.
A refreshing, clean-flavoured fennel salad provide the perfect summer starter or side dish. This recipe packs an extra punch of flavour with oranges and pomegranate.
A dolce doesn’t have to be a creamy dessert or a sugar-laden cake. Zesty, refreshing and superb in the summer months, a delicious Granita recipe is exactly what you need to finish off any meal or even serve in the day as a cool and tasty treat.
Liking the sound of these healthy Italian recipes? To find out how to make more delicious, authentic dishes, see our 2017 course dates.