Life Extension Magazine®
Common vegetables found in an Italian garden with heart benefits

Issue: Sep 2018

Vegetables from an Italian Garden

The editors of the book Vegetables From an Italian Garden have curated seasonal recipes gathered from cookbooks going back to the 1950s.

By Garry Messick.

Italian cuisine is usually not thought of as health food, associated as it is with pizza, pasta, lasagna, and rich, creamy deserts. But the fact is that vegetables are what make up the backbone of dishes in Italy, largely due to the immense richness of that country’s harvest.

What you need to know

Vegetables from an Italian Garden is a cookbook that provides surprisingly healthy Italian recipes that are molto delizioso!

Vegetables From an Italian Garden is a cookbook that focuses on that fact. Compiled from a number of Italian cookbooks going back to 1950, the editors note that “Markets all over the country are stocked with spectacular and colorful displays of tomatoes, bell peppers, globe artichokes, broccoli, fennel bulbs, asparagus, chicory, carrots, eggplants—whatever is in season.”

Accordingly, recipes in the cookbook are arranged into four categories featuring the vegetables that flourish in each season of the year. And it’s worth noting that many of these meals hew closely to the Mediterranean diet, famed for its associations with heart health and longevity.

We’ve selected a sampling of four recipes from among the many in Vegetables From an Italian Garden that are healthy as well as delicious.

— Garry Messick

Cannellini Bean and Spinach Salad With Mustard

Cannellini Bean and Spinach Salad With Mustard  

(Insalata di Cannellini e Spinaci Alla Senape)

Preparation time: 5 min. • Cooking time: 20 min. • Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • scant ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 ¾ pounds canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 5 1/3 cups chopped spinach
  • salt and pepper

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat the remainder in a wide pan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Stir in the cannellini beans and add the mustard-flavored vinegar and reserved olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme, parsley, and spinach. Cook, stirring continuously, until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat, Serve immediately.

Artichokes With Olive Oil and Garlic

Artichokes With Olive Oil and Garlic  

(Carciofi in Casseruola all’Aglio e Olio)

Preparation time: 30 min. • Cooking time: 40 min. • Serves 4

  • juice of 1 lemon, strained
  • 8 globe artichokes
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper

Fill a bowl halfway with water and stir in the lemon juice. Trim the artichoke stems, remove any coarse leaves and the chokes, and cut off the tips of the remaining leaves, then add the artichokes immediately to the acidulated water to prevent discoloration. Drain and pack them tightly into a tall, narrow, pan. Pour in water to come halfway up the artichokes, measuring how much you add. Then add half as much olive oil and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. (The liquid should come three-quarters of the way up the artichokes.) Cover and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, until the artichokes are tender and almost all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Lettuce, Avocado, and Pepper Salad

(Insalata di Lattuga, Avocado e peperoni)

Preparation Time: 15 min. • Serves 4

  • 1 large lettuce heart
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of ½ lemon, strained
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons strong mustard
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • salt

Separate the lettuce leaves. Peel and halve the avocado, remove and discard the pit, and thinly slice the flesh. Sprinkle the slices with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Whisk together the olive oil, mustard, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Put the lettuce leaves, bell pepper, and avocado slices on a serving dish, pour over the dressing, and serve.

Molise Celery

Molise Celery  

(Sedano alla Molisana)

Preparation time: 15 min. • Cooking time: 15 min. • Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 head celery, trimmed and sliced
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 scant cup pitted black olives
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
Vegetables from an Italian Garden
Item# 34140

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the celery and cook for 10 minutes, then drain, turn into a bowl, and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of water in a pan, add the scallions, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until softened, then season with salt and pepper. Put the celery into the prepared dish, top with the scallions and olives, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake for 15 minutes.

To order Vegetables From an Italian Garden call 1-800-544-4440.

Reprinted from Vegetables from an Italian Garden (phaidon 2011)

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