Spring-inspired Quinoa Salad

springquinoa7Spring is here! the beautiful flowers and trees blooming, the smells and aromas, the birds singing in the morning….And what I love the most about spring is the abundance of new market produce, when I think of this part of the year my mind goes straight to fresh peas, asparagus, broadbeans, small potatoes, strawberries, herbs, onions…so good.

I recently finished reading two books from my History of Medieval diet Professor and many interesting facts came out of it. For centuries our ancestors have been fighting the seasons and changes of climate, finding new ways to preserve food in case of shortage or for winter seasons. They would plant many different varieties of plants in case one or more wouldn’t be successful so they would have many options to choose from (this is what Biodiversity is). In any case Nature, and it’s sudden “changes of plan”, has always been seen as the enemy. And all the attempts at preserving food the best way wasn’t for pleasure but for Survival, making people see seasons in a negative way, and their idyllic world was one without seasons.  The world we live in now is one where canning tecnquics and other preservation methods have improved exponentially, and also transportation systems make it no problem if in one part of the globe the tomato harvest of the summer went badly. And this is exactly what our ancestors wished for. But yet, in the last decade or so, the food media is all about buying local and seasonal foods, in Italy we say “km zero” (meaning zero miles). There are websites able to calculate food miles and many other things. And the same goes for “regional” /local cuisines. In medieval times, the aspiration was to create a universal way of consumption, while in today’s mass industrial society, after globalization, we are now searching for local cuisines. If you go to a restaurant in Italy for example, the restaurant will likely not just serve Italian food, but Sicilian, from Piedmont, from Florence or Rome and so on.
What is right or wrong is difficult to say, but what is clear is that it seems like mankind is always searching for what he doesn’t have, he is driven by desire of the unreachable.

Anyways, the books my professor Montanari wrote are very interesting and this was only one of the many reflections that made me think while reading his books. (“la fame e l’abbondanza” & “il cibo come cultura”, all translated in several languages.

Back to the recipe! This is a simple easy to make (ahead also) salad perfect for a spring picnic, lunch on the go or dinner with friends (this was my case).

springquinoa8springquinoa1·Ingredients·
→1 cup quinoa
→1 big bunch of asparagus, 1-inch chopped Continue reading

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Master tonic

mastertonicdsc_1371Master tonic, aka Fire Cider, is a homemade natural remedy for colds and flus. Its ingredients are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, making it a great go to when in need of some immunity support for our body.
It’s the first time I make this, and I’ve decided to make a bigger batch next time. You basically put all the ingredients into a jar with apple cider vinegar and let “infuse” for some time, then strain.
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Look at this video on youtube, quite funny the amounts he did:

·INGREDIENTS·
→garlic
→fresh turmeric
→fresh ginger
→onion
→apple cider vinegar Continue reading

Foraging wild garlic

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This past weekend I spent it in my countryside house in the Piacentini hills, with some friends from uni. A pleasant way to spend the time there is to take walks in the fields, surrounded by nature. We’ve noticed in the past years lots of wild garlic in the fields, but never paid much attention to it. But every time we take a walk with someone not from the area, they always notice it! This time we actually started picking it, and when we realized it would take too much time digging with our hands we went back home, picked up 4 shovels and back to fill up two big bags of it.
The flavor and scent were so delicate and earthy. After cleaning it (which took a long time), we contemplated on what to make with it. Since it was so unique we decided first of all to keep it raw and to make a sauce adding just a few ingredients to accentuate the main one.
The result was AMAZING, we spread it on toasted bread, taralli and had it with some buffalo cheese as aperitivo….Perfect way to spend the weekend.

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A few notes on garlic: native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Today it’s used around the world for both culinary and health remedies. In fact it has cardiovascular benefits, lowering blood pressure, it’s anti inflammatory, and mostly known for it’s anti bacterial properties. It’s truly one of those Super foods.
Lots of people in Italy don’t eat garlic, some just cook with it and then throw it away before serving the dish, because they are afraid of the breath you get from eating it, or because they don’t digest it. I think Italians have a bit of phobia about it. Personally, I have no problems with it, although the day after we ate this we asked people if we smelled like garlic and some said we did, BUT we did eat A LOT of it. I don’t care that much, unless I have an important meeting I try to avoid it, especially if it’s raw. Garlic is so good, I couldn’t imagine a hummus or basil pesto without it?!


·INGREDIENTS·
→ wild garlic (with the green ends)
→ extra virgin olive oil
→ lemon juice
→ salt & pepper

Just blend every thing in a food processor. We added about 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and lots of salt.
Enjoy as a spread or topping for a soup or pasta dish.

 

 

Golden mylk

dsc_1423Tried this for the very first time and had to share… it’s basically a turmeric latte. So delicious and comforting, yet extremely good for you!! We all now turmeric by now, and all it’s great great health benefits.
So here is the recipe..
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INGREDIENTS• (1 serving)
→ 250 ml / 1 cup soy milk (or nut milk)
→ 1 tbsp freshly grated turmeric
→ 3 cardamon pods
→ 1/2 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
→ 1 tbsp honey (or less if you don’t have a sweet tooth)
→ 1 star anise

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon and star anise. Turn off the heat before it starts boiling. Add the honey, stir and strain your milk.
You can froth the top of the milk with a milk frother or serve as is, with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 

 

Pumpkin Sunflower seed Miso bowl

pump4I use miso paste a lot in my cooking..some of you might be wondering what is that dark paste found in health food supermarkets?
Miso is a traditional Japanese food and it means “fermented beans”. It is produced by the fermentation of soybeans and sometimes also grains  (usually rice or barley), together with “koji”, which is the term used for fermented products such as miso, sake or soy sauce that used the fungus Aspergillus. It is found in the form of a thick paste, varying in color (from yellow to red to brown), and it’s mostly know for miso soup, but it is a seasoning for many other dishes. It’s usually salty and has a very umami taste to it, but some kinds are sweet instead.
To make miso soy beans are soaked, rinsed and cooked. Then they are transferred to big wooden containers where it will ferment for variable times depending on the desired type of miso. The duration of fermentation is responsible for the different coloring in miso pastes. And the taste is due to the fermentation time, but mostly from the quality and kind of ingredients used at the beginning.

It’s considered a health food thanks to its digestive benefits due to the “friendly” bacteria and the vitamin B12 found in fermented foods. It is used often instead of salt and you want to make sure to use it “raw”, adding it at the end of the cooking. I mainly use it to make dressings with it, or add it to dips/sauces to give it that umami taste, or use it to season brown rice, etc.. Continue reading

Addictive KALE CHIPS

KALE CHIPS! So good, so healthy, so crunchy, so addictive!
These are so simple to make, will maintain crunchiness for several days, and can be done in many ways. You can adjust dressing as you like adding more or less spices, adding some kind of nuts or seeds too.

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a small diversion…I just came back from Woman’s March day in Milan. Today thousands will march in Washington and in many other Us and non Us cities. It gives a sense of hope to gather with other people who think the way you do, especially when so many things are going on in the world today, and they seem so wrong. Our group was quite small (around 300 people), half of which american, all protesting peacefully for Women’s rights because they are human’s rights. Many posters from Shepard Fairey, but many that were handmade. WE THE PEOPLE need to speak up and let our voices be heard.   Continue reading

“Amazing Quinoa” video

Happy new year!! Although 2016 hasn’t been such a good year for our planet, on a personal level it has been a great year for me. I hope 2017 will bring more incredible adventures and memories.
I was in England for the holidays and had a great time. After spending christmas with relatives, I spent a week in London and it was AWESOME, I ate in such amazing places and it was a very inspirational trip….thinking about the future….

I wanted to post this video I made about Quinoa this week. It is divided in 4 chapters, and in the last part I make quinoa milk!
I’ve been very busy lately, so short story..here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

And Happy 2017!