In the GI News Kitchen

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.

[JOHANNA]

‘Early bird’ tomato soup.
At some point in October, Italians harvest the last of their homegrown tomatoes. They will not taste the luscious flavor of just-picked, perfectly ripe tomatoes again until early summer. That’s when the first tomatoes of the season are sent to market from Naples. The flavors in this recipe improve as the season wears on, but even those “early bird” tomatoes don’t disappoint! Servings: 4 x 1½cup servings

1 dry pint organic grape tomatoes, washed
1 medium vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
880g/28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
3 cups vegetable, chicken or beef stock/broth (home-made if you can)
1 tsp fresh thyme
10 fresh leaves basil (or more to taste)

For the croutons
120g/4oz sourdough Italian bread, cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp basil pesto

‘Early bird’ tomato soup

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Spread the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle oil over the vegetables. Mix well. Roast for 40–45 minutes or until tomatoes and onion are caramelized, turning 2–3 times. In the meantime …
Add the canned tomatoes to a medium-sized stock pot. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes into small pieces. Add the broth and the herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low–medium and slow cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. When the tomatoes are ready, add them to the stock pot and continue to cook, partially covered, for another 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until it appears velvety smooth. Adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle soup into a dish and add the croutons. This soup may be served either hot or at room temperature.

To make the croutons:
Place the bread cubes in a mixing bowl. Combine the oil and pesto in a small dish. Drizzle over the bread and mix well. Transfer the bread cubes to a shallow baking pan. Bake for 5–6 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF, turning once.

Per serving
Energy: 1032kJ/246cals; Protein 8g; Fat 9g (includes 1g saturated fat and 0mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 34g; Fibre 5g

Cut back on the food bills and enjoy fresh-tasting, easily prepared, seasonal, satisfying and delicious low or moderate GI meals that don’t compromise on quality and flavour one little bit with our Money Saving Meals recipes including Cottage Pie Pots from Money Saving Meals (Hachette Australia) and the Cherry Tomato and Zucchini Bake from Catherine Saxelby's and Jennene Plummer's Zest (Hardie Grant). Zest is available from bookshops and online; eBook editions available from Amazon and iTunes etc.

Cottage pie pots.
Allow about an hour for these cottage pies – but it’s hands-on for much less than half that time. Use a lower GI potato suitable for mashing if Carisma isn’t available in your area. This is also delicious with golden sweet potato mash or even a potato and parsnip mix. Makes 6 pots.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
500g (1lb) beef mince
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1–1½ cups hot beef stock
1 tbsp seeded mustard
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
4 Carisma low GI potatoes
½ cup grated tasty cheese for topping

Cottage pie pots

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until the onion is soft.
Move the vegetables to the side of the pan and brown the beef over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour, then add the tomato paste and 1 cup of the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed (add a little extra stock if it looks too dry). Stir in the mustard and parsley, taste and season with salt (if using) and freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile …
Boil the potatoes, then mash them your favourite way (using olive oil and a little of the cooking water or butter and milk) until smooth and creamy.
Spoon about 2/3 cup of the beef mixture into 1-cup ovenproof pots, top with a good scoop of mashed potato, fork over to even out and top with cheese. Place on a baking tray (to catch any gravy that bubbles over) and bake for about 20 minutes until the meat sauce is piping hot and the topping golden and just crusty.

Per serve
1200kJ/290cals; 13g fat (includes 5.5g saturated fat); 4g fibre; 24g protein; 15g carbohydrate

Kate McGhie’s perfect potato purée.
For tips on creamy restaurant-style mash at home (without quite so much butter and cream!), we turned to Kate McGhie, Australia’s most trusted source of kitchen wisdom who has provided invaluable cooking advice to millions of readers in her legendary weekly column in Melbourne’s Herald Sun. Kate says: ‘Although many chefs use a mouli or ricer to mash potatoes, home cooks can achieve a silky smooth potato mash by following this method. Peel and cook the potatoes in salted water until cooked through, then drain well. Put the potatoes back into the pan over moderate heat to dry and then mash with a potato masher until smooth (or mash roughly then whisk with an electric whisk). Blend in soft butter and boiled milk with a wooden spoon adding more milk until the mash reaches the consistency you like and season to taste. The milk must be hot or the potatoes will not be light and fluffy. Do not boil the puree. For a ‘soft’ garlic flavour, place unpeeled cloves in the water when boiling the potatoes. When tender, squeeze out the flesh and add to the potatoes before mashing. For a stronger flavour, oven-roast the cloves then gently squeeze the flesh into the puree and mix well.’

Cherry tomato and zucchini bake.
This tasty combination of flavours is perfect as an accompaniment and satisfying when you just want a light meal. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, use 500g (about 1lb) tomatoes, roughly chopped. Serves 4 as an accompaniment.

2 x 250 g (8 oz) punnets cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
1 smallish leek, sliced
1 cup fresh grainy (low GI) bread breadcrumbs
1 cup grated reduced-fat tasty cheese

Cherry tomato and zucchini bake

Preheat the oven to moderate 180ºC (350ºF). Spray a 5-cup ovenproof dish with oil. (Catherine uses a ceramic baking dish that 35 x 23cm (14 x 9”) that she can take to the table to serve.)
Heat the oil in a deep pan and sauté the leek for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add in the tomatoes and zucchini. Toss well to coat with the oil. Spoon into the ovenproof dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese and sprinkle over the vegetables. Bake for 40–45 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly.

Per serve
680kJ/160cals; 8g fat (includes 4.5g saturated fat); 4g fibre; 11g protein; 10g carbohydrate

Keep an eye out for Catherine's new book: Catherine Saxelby's Complete Food & Nutrition Companion. It goes on sale in Australia on June 18th. We'll tell you more about it in our July issue.