Orzo Ri sotto w ith Mushrooms & Sw i ss Chard
Serves 6 This smooth and creamy dish features classic Mediterranean flavors from olive oil, garlic, veggies, pasta, and cheese. 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided 1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced 1 tsp. garlic, minced 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed
and chopped ( 10– 12 cups) ¼ cup shallots, minced 2 cups dry orzo pasta ½ cup dry white wine 3 ½ cups warmed low- sodium chicken
broth, divided ½ cup Parmesan cheese 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil to medium pan over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms until soft, and most of their liquid is evaporated. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute more. Transfer to bowl, and set aside.
2. Blanch chard in boiling water, 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Squeeze out excess moisture, and set aside.
3. In pan from mushrooms, sauté shallots in 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add orzo, and continue cooking until pasta browns lightly. Add wine, and scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.
4. Add 1 ½ cups of warmed chicken broth, and stir well. Continue cooking 10 minutes, add 1 cup of warmed broth, and cook 5 minutes more. Add remaining broth, and taste orzo for doneness. Stir in mushrooms and chard, and add Parmesan, butter, sage, salt, and pepper.
Per serving: 410 cal; 15g prot; 16g total fat ( 5g sat fat); 50g carb; 15mg chol; 300mg sod; 4g fiber; 4g sugar
6 GARNISH WITH DAIRY
Eating dairy has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. But we’re not talking about adding heavy layers of processed cheese to sandwiches and pasta: the traditional Mediterranean diet included cheese and yogurt from pastured sheep and goats, in reasonable amounts. To get your cheese on mindfully:
❱ Use Greek yogurt mixed with herbs and garlic instead of mayonnaise or salad dressing. ❱ Add fl avorful feta, Parmesan, or ricotta salata cheese to salads and sandwiches. ❱ Top casseroles, cooked vegetables, or frittatas with shaved Asiago or Manchego cheese.
7 AMP UP SEASONINGS
The traditional Mediterranean diet includes lots of garlic and herbs, with less reliance on salt than the typical American diet. Garlic is rich in compounds that lower cholesterol, support healthy immune function, and may protect against cancer. And herbs are high in antioxidants and other chemicals; parsley, for example, contains phenolic compounds and fl avonoids that have been shown to have antibacterial, analgesic, brain protective, and other benefi ts. To savor garlic and herbs:
❱ Combine garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and dried herbs in a shaker, and use instead of salt. ❱ Roast whole heads of garlic and spread on bread instead of butter or oil. ❱ Add handfuls of basil and parsley to salads; stir minced herbs into soups and sauces; and garnish your meals liberally with chives or mint.
8 EAT LESS MEAT
The traditional diet of the Mediterranean coast didn’t include a lot of meat, often for religious reasons. Additionally, the meat used was pasture- raised and grass- fed, and thus higher in omega- 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid ( CLA), a compound that may reduce body fat, support immune function, and protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Treat meat like a condiment, and eat only lean, organic, pasture- raised and/ or grass- fed versions. Some more meaty suggestions:
❱ Make legumes your main source of protein, and season them with small amounts of lamb cubes. ❱ Sauté strips of chicken with lots of vegetables, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. ❱ Layer a small portion of thinly sliced beef over a salad of arugula, spinach, and parsley, and sprinkle with feta cheese.
9 EAT PASTA
It’s really okay: it’s made from a kind of wheat called durum that’s more slowly absorbed and is less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Combining pasta with olive oil and high- fi ber vegetables further slows absorption. Choose whole- grain versions ( if you’re gluten- free, look for pasta made with legumes), skip the fatty cream sauces and handfuls of shredded cheese, and do your pasta the Mediterranean way:
❱ Toss linguini with olives, tomatoes, clams or shrimp, olive oil, and handfuls of basil and baby spinach. ❱ Purée white beans with garlic and olive oil, and toss with fusilli and green peas. ❱ Layer penne pasta with eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and tomato sauce; sprinkle with cheese and bake as a casserole.
10 MAKE EATING A SOCIAL ACTIVITY
Fast food was unheard of in traditional Mediterranean diets; so was eating alone, in the car, or at the computer. Typically, a home- cooked meal was shared with friends, eaten slowly, and enjoyed with a glass of wine— studies show that moderate consumption of red wine protects against cardiovascular and other diseases. And this relaxed, stress- free way of eating may be as responsible for the health benefi ts of the Mediterranean diet as the food itself. To make your meals more social:
❱ Learn to cook a few basics: a vegetable frittata, a bean and vegetable stew, or a pasta and vegetable casserole are easy ways to make shareable meals. ❱ Invite friends over. Share a bottle of wine and relax with conversation. ❱ If you must eat alone, enjoy it. Sit at the table, turn off the television or computer, eat slowly, and savor every mouthful.
Lisa Turner is a chef, food writer, product developer, and nutrition coach in Boulder, Colo. She has more than 20 years of experience in researching and writing about clean, nourishing foods, and coaching people toward healthier eating habits. Find her at lisaturnercooks. com.