American dietitian and author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Johanna Burani, shares favourite recipes with a low or moderate GI from her Italian kitchen. For more information, check out Johanna's website. The photographs are by Sergio Burani. His food, travel and wine photography website is photosbysergio.com.
Fruit compote with Grand Marnier
Italians eat fruit for dessert. Fresh fruit must be just that – fresh. As the winter season draws to an end, before the spring berries and early fruits like apricots and cherries appear, cooks take their not-so-fresh-anymore apples and pears and slowly stew them, often adding spices and liqueur. Here’s how I do it.
Makes 9 half-cup (approx) servings
3 large cooking apples (Cortland, Jonathan, Macintosh)
2 ripe pears (Bosc)
1½ tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Wash, core and cut the fruit into bite-size pieces (do not peel). Place them in a large (3-quart) heavy-based saucepan. Cover the pan and cook slowly over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Uncover the pan, add in the liqueur, increase the heat and cook for another 2–3 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Remove from heat, add the cardamom and mix thoroughly. Chill before serving. Makes about 9 half cup servings.
Energy: 168 kJ/ 40 cals; Protein less than 1g; Fat less than 1g; Carbs 9g; Fibre 2g
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Also known as cracked wheat, burghul (GI 48) is made from whole wheat grains that have been hulled and steamed before grinding to crack the grain. The wheat grain remains virtually intact—it is simply cracked – and the wheat germ and bran are retained, which preserves nutrients and lowers the GI. Use it as a breakfast cereal, in tabbouli, or add it to pilafs, vegetable burgers, stuffing, stews, salads and soups.
When I was shopping for burghul in my local Middle Eastern food store, the owner leaned over the counter and said. ‘Don’t use too much, just a small handful if you are making tabbouli.’ She then proceeded to share her recipe with me where the burghul is softened by the juices of the cucumber and tomato. She also told me to use curly parsley not flat-leaf for a better texture, which is great because that’s what so many people have growing in their garden. Serves 6–8
3 tightly packed cups (about 3 bunches) parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
3 medium green onions (shallots/spring onions), white and light green parts sliced
3 large red ripe roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp burghul
1 large Lebanese cucumber, quartered lengthwise then finely sliced
Juice 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Place the chopped parsley, mint and green onions in a large bowl and spread the chopped tomatoes over the top in a thickish layer. Sprinkle over the burghul. Top with the finely chopped the cucumber. Drizzle over the lemon juice and oil. Cover and chill until ready to serve, then toss to mix all the ingredients together.
Per serving (analysis based on serving 8)
Energy: 292kJ/ 70 cals; Protein 1. g; Fat 5 g; Carbs 4g Fibre 3g