January 30, 2012

Red Winter Salad | Insalata Rossa Invernale

Red Cabbage Beet Radicchio Salad

Once I said that red is the color of fall.

I am not regretting my words, but I thought about reformulating the concept while putting together this salad the other day. I now think it is a matter of nuances --a bright orange-y red gives way to a deeper, more purple-like red as fall turns into winter.

I like to think about the visible light spectrum as a circular line and the route of the earth as a parallel circle. Each nuance of the spectrum corresponds to a day, a week, a month of the year, and the cycle is infinite. Now, this precise time of the year must correspond to magenta and purple red. By the time spring comes, red would turn into bright green and delicate sprouts and leaves will make their appearance. We have to make the best of this season with the beauties and colors it has to offer before it is too late.

Eating with the seasons has this magic feeling to me --my imagination is boosted at every dish, and my entire self feels in harmony with the surroundings. It is truly fascinating. I am deeply convinced that nature knows best, and all I can do is second it. Saying that colors signal the specific benefits of each product, and that nature provides certain things in a specific season to meet our bodies needs is nothing new. However, it is an often forgotten or neglected principle. Eating with the seasons sometimes means eating with colors. It might be an easier way to remember.  The color of this salad was pretty unforgettable to me.

January 26, 2012

Flaxseed Roasted Carrots | Carote al Forno con Semi di Lino

carrots

Second episode of the SS series --a little more health-focused, as one of the advantages of a seasonal diet is that seasonal fruit and vegetables have much more nutrients (and flavor) than those grown all year around in greenhouses.

Today, let's talk about carrots. They have a great color, don't they? Their orange color speaks for them, as it tells you what nutrients they contain, thus why they are good for you. Carrots contain a huge amount of anioxidants (carotenoids alfa and beta carotene in first place), lutein and other nutrients with healing properties, which help preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases and keep your tissues and teeth in good health. Other important nutrients contained in carrots are vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B1 and B6, potassium, manganese and folates. They help fertility, make your skin prettier and your eyes stronger. Orange carrots are the most common, but you can find also white, red or purple carrots. Also in this case, their color speaks for their nutrient content. For example, the purple ones contain a great deal of anthocyanins (the same contained in blueberries and other blue-purple fruit and vegetables), which also have antioxydant effects and health benefits against cancer and diabetes.

Our body transforms carotenoids into Vitamin A, a real treat for our health (and beauty!). However, in order to accomplish this process it and to absorb the nutrients properly, it needs fats. So, if you want to crunch on a carrot as a snack, make sure you rub it with some oil first, or dip it in some nut butter. The same applies to juicing: add some cold-pressed flaxseed oil or some good cold-pressed new extra virgin olive oil to your juice before drinking it. You beauty treatment will be much more powerful! Plus, won't they be even tastier?! :)

January 22, 2012

Brussels Sprouts, Chestnuts and Orange | Cavoletti, Castagne e Arancia

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Orange Peel

This recipe will start the SS series --the name might sound intimidating but trust me, it is not. This series is actually pretty tasty, rather healthy, quite sustainable and surely enjoyable. I am talking about the Series on Seasonal Sides (and Salads). Ha.

You might know by now that I am a tireless supporter of a seasonal (and possibly local and organic) diet. I am always pretty upset by the extensive presence of peas, berries, tomatoes, bell peppers and zucchini around in winter --at the supermarket as much as on the internet. Not to mention the Christmas craziness featuring cherries and melons (I am talking about the Northern Hemisphere, of course). It really makes me mad.

As a final thesis for my BA, I investigated the symbolic meanings of food: place, time, culture and identity, status and tastes. What does that food has to say in terms of time, place, identity? Have you ever thought about food in these terms? When did it happen that we gave up these values? Isn't it important to know your food -- where it comes from, how it is produced, when it is the right time for eating a specific thing in a given place and why? Where ends the right compromise and starts the conservative thought?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

January 20, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Soup | Zuppa di Cavolfiore Arrosto

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Back home (the old home) for a while, I found myself surrounded by well-known feelings, situations ad habits. I also found myself surrounded by grandma's and grandpa's food again: chicken, eggs, frozen vegetables picked during summertime, and fresh winter produce such as Savoy cabbage and cauliflowers. My grandpa for some reasons that he is not willing to explain plants a huge amount of cauliflowers. He doesn't like them so much, he says --perhaps because he doesn't want to be bothered cooking them-- so we end up with tons of them in our refrigerator every other day. Tons.

In my family, cauliflowers have always been eaten steamed or boiled, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and salt, period. Never a soup, never raw, never roasted. Only when I went to live by myself did I discover other ways of making good use of this delicious winter vegetable: pasta, soup, stews and raw couscous. Yet, I never roasted it before. You don't desire what you don't know, they say. This, until I saw this soup. It might sound like I discovered hot water, but still...In that exact moment I realized how much flavor I lost on the way because of my habit of boiled veggie soups.

January 13, 2012

Thoughts over a Lentil Salad | Riflessioni su un'insalata di lenticchie

Lenti Fennel Trout Salad

This new year starts with an open-hearted thank you for all your kind words and congratulations on my new married life. You have no idea how much they meant to me, to us. I save and savor them especially now that times are getting harder and it's time to be stronger. J. will be far for a while, and I am temporarly back at my parents'. No words added.

We went to Rome for new years --a trip that turned into an unplanned honeymoon-- and ejoyed some of the best pasta dishes of our past and possibly future life. Cacio e Pepe at Roscioli, ammatriciana at L'Arcangelo, and fettucine con sugo d'involtino (meatroll sauce fettucine) at Da Felice. Not to mention the outragious amounts of pizza bianca from Forno Roscioli and pizza in teglia from Bonci we swallowed without batting an eyelash. All of it was the carb fuel for our infinite walks and wanderings around the whole city, savoring the old and the new, the monumental and the tiny, the crowded and the hidden.