Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Farro beet crepes! As you can imagine, these beautiful crepes are naturally colored with beet puree. They are the perfect dish for Mother’s Day brunch.

Farro-Beet-CrepesEver since I learned how easy it is to naturally color my food, I have been experimenting more and more in my kitchen. I love the esthetic look of colored food—Bright! Fun!—I also love packing in more nutritious vegetables to every meal. Plus, it’s easier than you think—way easier.

This post is sponsored by Poggio del Farro. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

I remember the first time I made a crepe; I was in high school. My feet on a step stool and my hands reaching  in the far corners of the wooden pantry shelf (where sometimes my older brother hid the best snacks), I ran across an old 1960s box with a crepe pan designed on the front—probably a wedding present. I was intrigued. I pulled it out, dusted it off and opened it up to find a little recipe book on top of the black crepe pan. That night I made cannelloni crepes for my family. I remember they turned out absolutely terribile. I was disappointed. My dad, on the other hand, continued to eat them. “It’s just one meal, Cindy,” I remember him saying. Ahh, my dad’s simple wisdom. He was right. I was just 16. In my lifetime I would have thousands of more meals to make and whole lot of opportunities to get it right.

Farro-Beet-CrepesThe second time I made a crepe was last year, almost 20 years later (wow does that make me feel old). I was recipe testing for Smeg {affiliate link}, an Italian design appliance brand. Since their small appliances have adorable colors, I wanted to create something stylish and colorful as well. My blender spinach crepes were so good that I brought them to my friends house where we created a beautiful outdoor aperitivo (Italian style happy hour).

Farro-Beet-CrepesSince spinach worked so well, I had to try it with beets. I also used farro wheat from Poggio del Farro for these crepes. I have come quite obsessed with Poggio del Farro’s products. Farro has lower gluten content and higher amounts of protein and fiber compared to modern day grains. I use their farro grains to make soups and salads, and their flours to make crepes, pancakes, chocolate chip cookies and homemade pasta, among many other recipes. Farro is pretty much replacing all other flours in my kitchen.

Farro-Beet-CrepesThe beet crepe on its own is not so beet-y tasting, so you can top it with a myriad of fillings from sweet to savory. My favorite for this recipe is fresh crispy arugula, creamy ricotta, juicy blood oranges, crunchy pistachios all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar (affiliate link) and sweet honey. Pure deliciousness.

Farro-Beet-Crepes

Happy Mother’s day to all and especially to my mom, an extraordinary woman whom I admire.

Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios
 
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These beautiful farro beet crepes are the perfect brunch recipe to surprise your mom on Mother's Day.
Serves: 6-8 crepes
Ingredients
  • For the Crepes:
  • 1¼ cup (300ml) milk
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 9 tablespoons(5.3oz,150g) beet puree
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter + more for cooking the crepes
  • 1 cup (130g) Poggio del Farro Organic Farro Flour*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Toppings:
  • 1 package organic arugula
  • 18oz (500g) ricotta
  • Orange zest from 2 organic blood oranges
  • 2 organic blood oranges, peel removed and chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar (Affiliate Link)
  • Honey
Instructions
  1. In a blender or a bowl, add all of the ingredients for the crepes then blend or whisk until homogenous. Chill in the refrigerator for ½ hour.
  2. Add a small knob of butter to a crepe pan or frying pan. As the butter and as it melts over medium heat, swirl the pan so that the butter covers the bottom. Pour in ½ cup of the crepe and quickly swirl the pan so that it distributes the liquid evenly. Cook for 1-3 minutes then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat for the rest of the crepes. Keep the crepes warm by putting them in the oven at a low temperature.
  3. Fill each crepe with some ricotta, arugula, blood orange pieces & zest and pistachios. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and honey.
Notes
Batter should be chilled in the refrigerator for ½ hour before using.

*If you are not able to find farro flour you can replace with other flour.

 

 

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins  

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins  

Yes! Gluten-free mini blueberry muffins that actually taste amazing!

Gluten-Free-Mini-Blueberry-MuffinsGuys, you are going to love these. Whether or not you follow a gluten-free diet or you just want to mix up your diet with other healthy flour substitutes, these gluten-free mini blueberry muffins are so delicious that you will be too busy having a second one to even think about “normal” muffins.

What I love about these muffins is that they are made with almond meal (just throw raw almonds in your blender or food processor and blend until it because a crumbly flour.) Almonds— and all nuts in general—are one of my favorite go-to snacks. Why? Just a handful of almonds give me a boost of energy throughout the day and they are full of healthy fats, fiber, protein and all sorts of other nutritional benefits. I always bring them with me when I go hiking or on road trips. And, I love topping almonds in my salads or making almond butter to swirl in my smoothie or grain bowls.

When I was a kid, my mom always had a wooden bowl full of nuts. Not the already shelled kind that I usually have in my cupboards, but a bowlful of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazilian nuts to actually crack. Surely you’ve seen the shells of walnuts, but have you ever seen the shell of an almond? With its tan oval shape and tiny little holes, it looks like its made out of cork. Or, how about a hazelnut shell? It looks like an acorn missing its little top. Then there is the peculiar Brazilian nut shell with its brown rugged surface that seems like a chunk  of washed up wood that you’d find at the beach. All so distinctive and unique, all so delicious too.

Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Muffins
 
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These gluten-free mini blueberry muffins are made with almond meal and are a great breakfast or snack filled with a good source of protein and fiber.
Serves: 24 mini muffins
Ingredients
  • 3 cups (330g) cups almond meal
  • ¼ (1g) tsp salt
  • ½ tsp (3g) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (2g) cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp (45g) honey
  • ¼ cup (50g) melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter or spray a mini muffin pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment, add the following: almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and chia seeds. Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together: honey, coconut oil, almond milk and eggs.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer and whisk on speed 4 until just combined, about 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the blueberries with a spatula.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the raw cane sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Fill the greased muffin cups until full. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months.

Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest

Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest

I’m obsessed with this farro beet soup with Greek yogurt, pistachios and orange zest. Mr. Italicano is too. He even forgot that that he doesn’t like beets!

This post is sponsored by Poggio del Farro. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

Really, all food can be great (or bad)—it just comes down to how you prepare the dish. Just take microwaved mushy asparagus vs. melt-in-your-mouth-shaved asparagus.  The first is seriously inedible (actually, flat out gross) the second I can down in a second. I often top my frittata with shaved asparagus or serve it with delicious fresh fish.   You can also use these green veggie curls in place of fettuccine noodles like Lindsey Ostrom does on her blog, Pinch of Yum. Watch out world,  shaved asparagus is going to be the new avocado to your toast.

Now that we got my shaved asparagus obsession out of the way, let’s get back to this amazing farro beet soup. The idea for this recipe came from Maria Speck’s lovely Simple Ancient Grain Book. She makes a bright beet soup with buckwheat and spicy horseradish, while I created mine to incorporate the irresistible flavors of the Mediterranean: a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt, nutty farro from Tuscany and pistachios and orange zest that are symbols of Sicily.

Farro is a staple in my vegetarian/pescatarian lifestyle. It’s a grain that  is high in protein, fiber and antioxidants—you can read more about the nutritional benefits here — and I love it’s subtle nutty taste and firm texture. It’s so adaptable and can be transformed into a healthy salad, homemade pasta, easy crepes, and more.

I get my farro from Poggio del Farro, a family owned company in Tuscany. They are truly “farro specialists.” The passion that they put into their work to make their products made me fall in love with this grain. When I met the owner Federico for the first time I listened as he explained that this business adventure was an act of love for his family and keeping the tradition of cultivating farro alive (many fellow farmers were switching to grains that were easier to cultivate). I’ve been substituting farro for modern refined flours more and more as the reading I’ve done shows that it is a better choice for your health. And, although I don’t have problems with gluten, I like that farro has a different kind of gluten structure than modern grains. In fact, many people with gluten sensibilities (not celiacs disease) find that they can eat this grain without adverse effects. I want to limit health problems in the future by being attentive of what I’m eating today!

Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest
 
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This vibrant and healthy farro beet soup with Greek yogurt, pistachios and orange zest incorporates the irresistible flavors of the Mediterranean.
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • For the beet soup:
  • 1 cup (200g) Dehusked Organic Farro
  • 3 cups (700ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 16oz (450g) cooked beets
  • 2-3 cups cold vegetable broth
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the topping:
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • Orange zest
Instructions
  1. Add the farro and water to a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil then add the salt and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the red onion and salt; cook until the onions are translucent, but not browned. Now add the garlic and honey and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
  3. In a blender, add: the onion/garlic mixture, beets, 1 cup vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the contents of the blender into the medium sized pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Now that the farro is ready, drain and add to the pot with the beet soup. Add more vegetable broth to arrive at a soup-like consistency. Bring to a simmer on medium heat until warm. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper--the salt really makes the flavor come out. Ladle into bowls. Top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, chives, pistachios and orange zest. Buon appetito!

This post was sponsored by Poggio del Farro and their delicious farro grains!   I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

Spring Farro Salad

Spring Farro Salad

Spring is officially here! What better way to kick off this season than with a delicious spring farro salad that is easy to make and packed with flavor. Plump chewy and lovely nutty farro grains are the star of this recipe.

Spring-Farro-SaladFarro is an ancient grain high in protein that is grown in Emilia-Romana, Tuscany and other regions of Italy. I really like the farro products from Poggio del Farro, a family owned company in Tuscany. They have a range of products that are delicious, healthy and easy to prepare. Try combining flavorful farro wheat berries with seasonal vegetables and this lemon Dijon vinaigrette and you’ll surprise yourself with how simple it is to prepare a stunning and mouthwatering main course or side dish for your family and friends.

Spring Farro Salad I created this recipe for my cooking shows with Smeg in Chicago and New York City. While Spring had sprung in Italy, little did I know that a snow storm would be heading my way when we landed in Chicago last week! We arrived with sunshine and optimal temps but awoke to a flurry of snow. It was quite a sight. Luckily it was just a one day ordeal and the snow quickly melted in the following days. Thank goodness! I am so over winter…bring on spring and all the good seasonal fruits & veggies, t-shirts and light weight coats and longer days of sunshine.

Spring Farro Salad
 
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This delicious spring farro salad with lemon and dijon vinaigrette is easy to make and packed with flavor. Enjoy!
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1½ (300g) cups farro (emmer) grains, Poggio di Farro
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 carrots, chopped or grated
  • 1 fennel, chopped or grated
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup packed organic spinach (1 oz, 30g), chopped
  • 3.5 oz (100g) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 tablespoons (6g) chopped chives
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  • Zest from ½ organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoon (30g) Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add the farro and water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. In the meantime, add of the ingredients for the sauce to a bowl and stir.
  3. When the farro is done, drain and pour into a serving bowl. Add the carrots, fennel, radishes, spinach, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives and the sauce. Mix well. Serve warm or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator and serve cold. Buon appetito!

Here are some photos of the shows in Chicago at Williams-Sonoma , Eataly, Bloomingdales and the IHHS tradeshow . We had a great time in Chicago and are now having a lot of fun at our shows in NYC. If you want to see more photos, check out my Facebook or Instagram pages.  March 26, I will be at Bloomingdale’s NY 59th from 12-2pm and will be making this salad along with beet farro crepes topped with ricotta, blood oranges, pistachios, honey and aged balsamic vinegar. I look forward to hopefully seeing you there!

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-3

 

V.E.G.E.T.A.B.L.E.S.

Oh, how I’ve missed you! While Mr. Italicano and I were on our west coast food tour we spent most of a month eating out while we worked and traveled. On one hand I was excited and delighted to try new restaurants :: ristoranti in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver; on the other hand, I was itching to get back in my kitchen in Italy to create new healthy recipes made from fresh seasonal vegetables from my local farmer’s market.

And, that’s exactly what we did.

The day after we got back to Italy, we headed out to the farmer’s market and loaded up on fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. For our first lunch I made a simple green salad loaded with succulent Sicilian blood oranges, chia seeds, feta and walnuts; this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish with grated ginger and zested lemon and a big bowl of paccheri pasta with calamaretti :: baby squid, that I seasoned with Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. These vegetarian and pescatarian recipes were so quick and simple to make and were packed with wholesome goodness.Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-1aRoasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-2-bOne of the biggest problems about eating out in America is that is EXPENSIVE TO EAT WELL! For a fast food meal made with refined flour, sugars and GMO ingredients, you can spend under $15 for two. If you go to a mid-range chain restaurant with even nice decor and great service, commonly you’ll still pretty much get the same quality but spend over $60 for two dishes and drinks (taxes and tip included). Both options left us unsatisfied with the quality of our food, but more importantly put the quality of our health at risk :: rischio! We went to these places a few times out of convenience, and after having eaten both Mr. Italicano and I felt sluggish, not mentally alert, bloated and scandalized on how much we spent. I’m convinced that if we’d had continue to eat this way for a month, we would have even gained a substantial amount of weight. #notcool. So our solution to getting around eating bad while traveling was this:
BREAKFAST: we snacked on fruit :: frutta, nuts, protein bars (being sure to find ones with clean labels), dark chocolate, tea and coffee. We did our shopping at a supermarket (I recommend Trader Joe’s) and we ate in our hotel or on the road when we were traveling. We spent $7-8 for two instead of $23-25 and we knew exactly what we were eating.
LUNCH: more snacks or leftovers :: avanzi from my cooking shows.
DINNER: we almost always went to a nice restaurant with high quality food (ATTENTION: we didn’t just choose a place based on how cute the decor it was but used online reviews specifically for the quality :: qualità). These places were usually quite expensive. A dinner for two with drinks ran from $110-140 (with taxes and tip). It seems like a lot, but if you do the math, we ended up spending the same amount per day as we would have for three mediocre meals eating out, but we ate better quality food and we felt better too.

Roasted-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-with-Lemon-and-Ginger-4Now back in my kitchen :: cucina, I’m excited to be developing more recipes to give you more ideas on how to cook healthy and simple recipes that you can feel good about eating, like this roasted broccoli and cauliflower dish. If you have any leftovers just toss them into a salad, add some beans, lentils or tuna for a main coarse or chop them up finely and add them to scrambled eggs.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon & Ginger
 
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This recipe for roasted broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and ginger is great to eat as a side dish, tossed into a green salad, mixed with grains, lentils or tuna or cut up finely and mixed into a scrambled egg. It's a healthy dish that is quick to make and loaded with nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the broccoli, cauliflower, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, grated ginger, salt and black pepper until well coated. Evenly distribute the vegetables on the sheet and roast until tender and slightly browned; 20-30 minutes.

 

 

Holiday Quinoa Salad

Holiday Quinoa Salad

I’ve never found fresh cranberries in Italy, only dried. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem; after all, I only ever eat fresh cranberries at holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet, it’s now approaching 2 years since my last cranberry fix; two years since I’ve been home to the US during the holidays.

What do I love about homemade cranberry sauce? Well, for starters, its bright vibrant red color that brightens the table, then there’s that sudden shock of surprise when a cranberry pops in my mouth releasing its tart juices that slowly are taken over by sweetness and later rounded off by a hint of CONTINUE READING