OUR CHRISTMAS MENU: A TOAST TO GOOD HEALTH, DELICIOUS FOOD, AND HOLIDAY TRADITION

  • by: Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus Editorial Staff
  • April 20th, 2020

The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family—often over rich and elaborate meals to ring in the holiday cheer. Yet, these decadent traditions can result in indigestion and even extra pounds.

The following simple tips can help you enjoy the holidays without over-indulging—or feeling guilty:

  • Choose simple dishes that contain little fat and added sugar;
  • Reduce your portion sizes, so you can taste everything without overdoing it;
  • Avoid adding condiments (salt, oil, sauces or dips);
  • Steer free of sugary soft drinks or sparkling beverages. Instead, aim to drink 2 liters of water a day;
  • Keep active: get off the couch and leave the dinner table now and then to stretch your legs between courses (for example, help out in the kitchen or serving the guests);
  • At the end of the meal, if possible, go for a long walk with your loved ones, bringing along the little ones!

If you need help preparing a simple and healthy Christmas lunch, we can help!

We have created a Christmas Menu just for you that is abundant in tasty, seasonal ingredients and features easy recipes from the book Alla tavola della longevità  by Prof. Valter Longo.

APPETIZER:

Chard and Ricotta Tart

Serves 6

  • 400 g of all-purpose flour
  •  2 kg of chard or collard greens (whole leaves)
  • 1 handful of breadcrumbs
  • 300 g of goat-milk ricotta
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Trim the greens, keeping only the leaves. Wash and chop, then lightly salt and let sit to drain for 15 minutes.  Mix with the cheese, breadcrumbs, a pinch of pepper and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix the flour with water, 2 tablespoons of oil and a generous pinch of salt until a dough forms. Divide in half and roll out two sheets of dough that are just are slightly bigger than the tart pan. Brush the pan bottom lightly with oil, and position the first sheet of dough in the pan. Pour the mixture of greens and cheese over the bottom sheet, and spread until even. Cover with the second sheet of dough, pressing the edges of both sheets together to seal. Brush the dough with plenty of oil and then use a fork to poke holes in the surface. Bake in the oven at 200 °C until the tart crust is golden in color.

FIRST COURSE:

Pumpkin Risotto

Serves 4

  • 250 g of rice
  • 250 g of pumpkin (pulp)
  • 20 g of butter
  • 30 g of shallots
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1.5 liters of vegetable broth
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parsley
  • 20 g of grana padano cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Lightly saute the minced shallot in a pot with oil, until the shallot is softened. Add the pumpkin (cut into slices). Pour the wine over the mixture, and when the wine evaporates, add a little salt. Cover and let cook on a low flame for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. In the meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice to the pumpkin mixture, toasting lightly in the pot. Cook the rice  mixture by adding small amounts of broth in intervals.  When the rice is cooked, stir in the butter and grated cheese and sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve with freshly ground pepper.

SECOND COURSE:

Fish served barese style

Serves 4

  • 2 sea bream (orate) 500 g
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Parsley
  • 50 g of raisins
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 liter of dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Descale and clean the fish,  and then cut into slices. Arrange in a terracotta dish and cover with the wine and raisins (soak the raisins first in warm water to plump up; then squeeze the water out). Add the minced parsley and garlic, the onion (cut into rounds), and finally the bay leaf (torn in half). Flavor with salt and pepper, and let marinate for an hour. Then place the dish on the stove top and cook on a low flame for 10 minutes. Gently remove the fish from the terracotta dish and transfer to a serving dish. Continue cooking the sauce until thickened. Pass the sauce through a sieve, and then pour over the fish. Finish with a drizzle of raw olive oil.

SIDE DISH:

CAULIFLOWER SALAD

Serves 4

  • 1 Cauliflower
  • 1 Dozen black olives
  • 1  Teaspoon of capers
  • 1 Pepper (preserved in vinegar)
  • White wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Trim the cauliflower and divide into florets. Rise and blanch in a little water with a pinch of salt (the cauliflower should remain firm in texture: do not overcook). Drain and dress immediately with the vinegar, oil, olives, capers, and pepper (cut into strips).

DESSERT:

Castagnaccio Chestnut Cake with sweet wine, pine nuts, and raisins

Serves 8

  • 350 g of chestnut flower
  • 80 g of raisins
  • 100 g of pine nuts
  • A few walnuts
  • 1 Cup of sweet wine
  • 4 Tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 Sprig of rosemary
  • Salt

Soak the raisins in the wine, which should be lukewarm. In the meantime, sift the chestnut flour and then add 600 ml of room-temperature water. Add a pinch of salt and the olive oil, then work the dough until it is malleable and not too dense. Add the chopped walnuts and pine nuts, the raisins (drained and pressed to eliminate the excess wine), and finally the rosemary needles.  Spread the mixture onto a baking tray coated in oil (the dough should be no more than 2 cm thick). Brush a bit of oil over the dough, decorate the top with a few rosemary needles, and bake at 180 °C for about 40 minutes, or until little cracks begin to appear on the surface.

Dr. Gina Forrisi

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