There is a famous Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano“, which means a healthy mind in a healthy body. We believe that if we take good care of our bodies, it will bring out some positive energy. And here’s why, I would like to share some of my favourite healthy food recipes. Trust me, they are tasty and easy to make. Hope you enjoy, and please feel free to leave a comment down below should you have any question. Happy to assist! 🙂
MINESTRONE – Italian Vegetable Soup
This comforting Italian soup, minestrone, screams spring to me. It’s prepared using whatever seasonal vegetables we fancy or we have lingering around in the fridge, the more the merrier. But, personally, I wouldn’t use cauliflower and broccoli as their tastes will prevail too much over the other ingredients. These vegetables are usually left in small chunks, but just purée everything with a blender if you prefer the creamy vellutata – velvety soup.
There’s one additional ingredient that would make the soup up a notch: the hard outer crust of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese. Yes, that part with the stamp on it that you’d usually throw away! Next time, keep them in the freezer after you’ve finished eating the ‘good’ part of the cheese and insert a piece to your soups or stocks (vegetables or meat-based, not in the fish soup!). This will add depth and umami flavor to the broth.
(serves 4 to 5)
250 g potatoes
250 g carrots
250 g celery
250 g zucchini
200 g green beans
1 (200 g) fennel bulb (optional)
100 g spinach
1 spring onion
± 2,5 liters of water
20-30g (2-3 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
Pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
‘Secret’ optional ingredient (not pictured):
20g Parmesan or Grana cheese crust
- Peel potatoes and carrots. Dice into about 1.5-cm cubes. Cut also celery, zucchini, green beans, and fennel into approximately the same size.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil, just enough to cover the bottom of a 5-liters pan.
- Sweat the chopped onion until fragrant and translucent. Add a touch of water if it seems to be browning too much.
- Insert potatoes, carrots, and celery, since they need more cooking time than the other vegetables. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your taste. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the water.
- Include the Parmesan crust, if using. Cover the pan with lid and simmer for 15 minutes until this first batch of vegs is starting to become tender on the edges.
- Add in zucchini, green beans, and fennel. Put the lid back on and boil for further 15 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked and tender.
- Roughly chop spinach in small chunks and slice the spring onions into thin rounds. Insert into the soup and cook for a couple of more minutes, just until the spinach is wilted and the spring onion is milder.
- By now your minestrone should have reduced into about 70% of its original volume. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- The soup is ready as it is, but I usually purée about 1/3 of it and mix it back into the pan to slightly thicken it.
- If you prefer, you can purée everything with a blender to obtain a creamy vegetable soup.
- Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and garnish with few slices of spring onions and a couple of sprigs of fennel leaves.
TUNA AND AVOCADO TARTARE
We’re at the beginning of the avocado season here in Bali and it’s a fruit I’ve loved since childhood, long before the avocado toast became very popular. It’s a must in my grocery lists and I think it goes really well with meaty and rich fish, like tuna or salmon. For a tartare, I prefer to use tuna as, I reckon, salmon is too fatty for this purpose.
This is a really easy starter recipe, ready in a few minutes, depending on how fast you are with your knife. No cooking involved, all you have to do is to cut and mix all the ingredients together. I use avocado halves as cups as it is quite scenographic, but feel free to present the dish to your preference, especially if avocados are hard to find and expensive in your area.
200 g fresh tuna
100 g cucumber
1/2 red chili
1/2 (100 g) fennel bulb (optional)
1 tbsp mix sesame seeds
10 g chopped almonds
20 g (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
50 g frisée lettuce
100 g tomatoes
100 g toasted rye bread
- Cut tuna into about 1-cm cubes and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to season it.
- Open one of the avocado into two halves. Peel and keep them whole to be used as cups. Slice the other half of mango into about 1-cm cubes.
- Slice the cucumber vertically into two halves. Remove the watery part with the seeds. Finely dice into about 0.5-cm cubes.
- If using, cut the fennel bulb pretty much into the same size as the cucumber. Finely chop a small bunch of the fennel tips.
- Deseed the red chili and finely into 3-mm dice.
- Place the tuna and all these cut ingredients in a large bowl. Add sesame seeds and chopped almonds. Leave a small amount for garnish.
- Season with salt, freshly grated black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Mix delicately using a spoon.
- Place the tuna and avocado tartare into the two avocado cups. Garnish with extra sesame seeds, chopped almonds, chilies and fennel tips (if using)
- Serve immediately, accompanied by the toasted bread and the lettuce and tomato salad.
FENNEL, POMELO AND BALINESE TANGERINE SALAD
Here in Indonesia, we’re quite familiar with fennel seeds (adas manis) in the kitchen, but still not many us use the fennel bulb as vegetables. We can still find them in furnished supermarkets, but it’s quite pricey. To experiment with it you can try to serve a smaller portion of this very easy and fresh salad as an amuse-bouche – a palate ‘teaser’ dish before you start your meal. It’s inspired by a Southern Italian ‘Insalata di Finocchio e Arance’ (Fennel and Orange Salad) from the Island of Sicily, Italy’s main producer of oranges. It’s usually consumed as one of the antipasti (starters) alongside cold cuts and fresh bread, or as a contorno (side dish) to accompany fish or meat-based mains. In Bali, good oranges are difficult to come by and are expensive, so I thought of ‘playing’ with the classic recipe using the locally grown Balinese tangerines and pomelos.
1 (200 g) fennel bulb
200g pomelo (or red grapefruit)
3 (300 g) Balinese tangerines (or clementine or oranges)
6 (20 g) pitted black olives
20g (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
- Clean the fennel bulb from the leaves and slice the white part into thin slivers.
- Don’t throw away the leaves as we’ll use them as a garnish, keep them in icy water to maintain their freshness.
- Remove the pomelo thick outer skin and peel the white thin skin covering the pulp. Break the pulp delicately into small pieces.
- Peel the tangerines and slice them into about 0.5-cm rounds. Cut also the olives into rings.
- Arrange the sliced fennel, tangerines, pomelo, and olives nicely on a plate.
- Season with salt, freshly grated black pepper and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Garnish with the fennel leaves tips and serve immediately.
Keep the citrus fruits and fennel bulb in the fridge before cutting. This salad is usually eaten cold to maximise the freshness.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Tempted by the lush tropical forest of Padma Resort Ubud, Chef Theodora Hurustiati has decided to call Bali home – after having lived for nearly 18 years in Italy. Born in Jakarta to a multicultural family, she embraced diversity from an early age. Her eclectic style of cooking is a melting pot of cultures and allows us to travel the world using our tastebud like it was seen in her former column for The Jakarta Post.