Today my sister Marika was free from work and she invited me for lunch as she got some beautiful fresh artichokes from the market. Of course those artichokes were just an excuse as she loves having lunch together.
As we were slicing artichokes and carrots together, I just realized how fortunate I am .
When I look back at my decision to leave the corporate world and move back to Lecce to promote the Mediterranean lifestyle, I realize that the opportunity to eat home-made food every day, and often with my sister, is one my biggest rewards.
And I am very thankful for that as it allows me to feel that I have roots, a family and bonds.
The Mediterranean Diet is so much more than eating complex grains, plant-based dishes and legumes, or fish.
This is all correct, but one of the most important features of the Mediterranean diet is that it encompasses more than just food. Food is a mean that brings people together.
Food is essentially cooked at home and every day families gather to cook and have lunch together. Lunch is our most important meal and this is why in Lecce for example we have a siesta from 1pm to 5pm. Food is always very simple as people don’t have much time to shop and cook.
In the evening it’s time for our friends and so we go out to socialize and eat with them. This is also why, when you go to a restaurant in a Mediterranean area, you will never be rushed to finish and pay by the owner as people go to a restaurant not simply to eat, but mainly to socialize with friends.
In 2013, the Mediterranean Diet was inscribed on the Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity highlighting that the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle that encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events.
Unesco also highlighted the role of Women who play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques.
Marika and I dedicated our ebook to Southern Italian Women like our mother and grandmothers and their mothers who for centuries handed down such ancient lifestyle.
And today we made this RICE AND ARTICHOKES SOUP
This is a very easy recipe that takes about 15 minutes to be prepared.
Ingredients for 4 servings
-4 fresh artichoke hearts
-350 grams of rice (you can use any type of rice or farro)
-1 small onion (we used the purple onion, but white onion is also ok)
-1 celery stalk
-10 leaves of chicory (similar to dandelions)
-3 red cherry tomatoes
-3 tablespoons of Equilibrium or Green Season Extra Virgin Olive Oil (3 tbsp in total for cooking and 1 tbsp per person on top of each plate)
-1 tsp of sea salt
-1 or 2 cups of tepid water or broth
To prepare the artichokes, remove the outside hard leaves and then cut off the top. Wash and slice the hearts.
Then make the soffritto. Wash and slice the red tomatoes, carrots and onion. Sautè them in a pot with three tablespoons of Equilibrium or Green Season EVOO.
Cover the pot with the lid and let the tomatoes and vegatables soften. If necessary add 3-4 tablespoons of water (so they do not stick).
After about 4 minutes, add the rice, celery, artichoke hearts and chicories (dandelion). Add one cup of tepid water (or vegetable broth) and cover with the lid.
Cook for about 15 minutes at low heat. Stir every 5 minutes and add a bit more water/broth in case the rice needs it.
When the rice is cooked add a flat tsp of sea salt.
Let the rice with artichokes cool down and serve on a plate.
Add 1 tbsp of Equilibrium or Green Season EVOO on top of each plate.
Invite a family member or a good friend over and ….this soup will be even tastier!
The artichoke plant (Cynara scolymus) is commonly grown in Mediterranean countries. The leaf of the Cynara scolymus which contains phenolic acids, flavonoids, phytosterols, inulin, enzymes, and essential oils, has been used for centuries as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, choleretic, hepatoprotective, cholesterol-lowering, lipid-lowering, and glucose-lowering substance in Southern Europe and Mediterranean countries.
This rice and artichoke soup is a healthy recipe also because we are using the soffritto with extra virgin olive oil allowing all vitamins to be released and stay in the pot.
What is your favorite food to cook at home?