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.
Summer green beans
Fresh green beans are an excellent source of potassium and folic acid. They are fibrous and have diuretic qualities too. These nutritional virtues may not mean as much to Italian cooks, however, as their fresh and wholesome summery taste. Every Italian vegetable garden has a designated spot for the much-loved ‘fagiolini’. This recipe is unbelievably easy and quick – less than 15 minutes from garden to table! Serves 8 (about 1 cup each)
450g (1lb) fresh green beans
450g (1lb) ripe plum tomatoes
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons. pesto
Coarse sea salt (optional)
- Wash the beans, cut off the tips and steam until tender (about 12 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- Wash the tomatoes and halve them horizontally. Holding each half, use your index finger to remove the seeds under running water. Drain and cut into long, thin slices.
- Place the beans, the tomatoes and the onion in a serving dish. Add the pesto and mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Per serving (1 cup)
Energy: 239kJ/57cals; Protein 2g; Fat 2g (includes less than 1g saturated fat); Available carbs 6g; Fibre 3g
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Leek, silver beet (Swiss chard) and feta slice
Everyone says that children and veggies don’t go together. TV ads promote sauces to smother vegetables so the children will eat them, magazines feature stories on helping anxious parents get veggies into their children and there are best-selling cookbooks based entirely on being a sneaky chef and hiding vegetables in meals. And I have to confess to hiding grated zucchini in spaghetti Bolognese and burger patties. But my views have totally changed since I have been teaching children how to cook as part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program at Bondi Public School. The children grow the vegetables in our school garden, they look after them, they harvest them and prepare and cook them in our kitchen. So we can’t hide them – they know they are there because they put them there, and they happily eat them. The week I made a silver beet tart there was nearly a stampede for seconds, and this slice – an adaptation of a zucchini slice – made with silver beet, leeks and herbs the children picked from the garden disappeared just as quickly. Makes 10 slices
2 tablespoons oil
1 leek, halved lengthwise, washed, dried, sliced
10 silver beet (Swiss chard) leaves, remove stems, washed, dried, shredded
1 carrot, grated
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped spearmint leaves or 2 tablespoons chopped mint
¾ cup (60g) finely grated parmesan cheese
60g (2oz) feta cheese, crumbled
1¼ cups (180g) self-raising flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease and line a 16 x 26cm/6 x 10in (base measurement) slice pan.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and cook leek for 4–5 minutes until soft. Stir in shredded silver beet and cook for 3–4 minutes until silver beet has wilted. Spoon the mixture into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool. Add the carrot, herbs and both cheeses to the silver beet bowl and stir to combine. Sift in the flour and mix well.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs, remaining oil and milk together and pour into silver beet mixture and stir to combine. Spoon into the prepared slice pan, smooth the surface and bake for 25–30 minutes, until set and the top is starting to brown. Stand 10 minutes and then serve at room temperature.
Per serving (1 piece)
Energy: kJ/ cals; Protein 9g; Fat 9g (includes 3g saturated fat and 101mg cholesterol); Available carbs 15g; Fibre 3.5g