Healthy Italian Cuisine
Italy is a food lover’s dream destination. Sit outside on a cobbled street and nibble on some meat, cheese and bread for a first course, then a plate of pasta, followed by pizza or even steak. Then, the evening wouldn’t be complete without a bowl of tiramisu, or a few scoops of gelato… or just something smothered in Nutella. Wash this down with several glasses of wine or beer and you have yourself a meal you won’t forget in a hurry – but before you hurry to recreate it in your kitchen at home, consider making lighter versions of your Italian favourites.
A delicious plate of meat, cheese, vegetables and bread is the perfect way to start an Italian meal. It doesn’t have to be an excessive overindulgence, though. When dining Italian style, a spread of nibbles is shared between the entire table – so there is no need to prepare a vast array of food for only a few people. Select a few top quality meats and cheeses, allow one or two slices of crusty bread per person, then round out the plate with olives, artichokes and other pickled and marinated vegetables.
A heaping pile of spaghetti dressed in a rich sauce and speckled with juicy lardons, might be your holiday favourite, but try making a healthier version for a simple meal at home. You will only need a small amount of pasta compared to the portion size served at most Italian restaurants. Many restaurants add cream to the sauce, though in the authentic tradition, carbonara is made using only eggs, beaten lightly and quickly added to the pasta before it is taken off the heat. Instead of lardons, use a small amount of lean bacon cut into small chunks. The beauty of this dish does not come from using a massive amount of meat, but rather from the delight of finding a salty bite in a mouthful of al dente pasta and velvety sauce. Garnish with plenty of black pepper, a little grated parmesan.
Once you’ve tasted thin and crispy pizza in Italy, you may never go back to the soggy, doughy takeaway variety. Make your own whole wheat pizza at home, and top it with a small amount of fresh mozzarella, plenty of tomatoes and other vegetables, and any lean meat or fish of your choice. For a less authentic but much speedier option, top a tortilla wrap, pitta bread or naan bread with tomato puree, cheese and your desired ingredients before placing it under the grill.
The options for Italian dessert are endless and delicious. From tiramisu to gelato, panna cotta to cannoli, almost every Italian dessert is very rich. On a warm night, after you’ve eaten two hearty courses, granita is the perfect refreshing treat. All you need to make your own is a food processor and a freezer, and a creative imagination to dream up a fantastic flavour. Traditional Italian flavours include lemon, orange, coffee, and mint.
Instead of choosing a coffee with whipped cream, sugar and flavoured syrup to end your meal, opt for a simple espresso instead. Served black, a quality espresso does not need to be sweetened or flavoured for it to taste exquisite.