Happy New Year Italian Style
In some parts of the world, such as in Italy, the food traditions served on Capodanno (Italian New Year’s Eve) are an essential part of ringing in the new year with good luck and prosperous wishes.
One of the traditional must have foods on an Italian’s New Year menu is lentils. Why lentils? Think of the shape of this small bean. Doesn’t it look like little coins? Lentils symbolize good luck and money on your plate for the New Year. Oh, if we could all be a little richer in the new year by eating lentils!
Even if eating lentils doesn’t guarantee you will be rich, you will be rich in nutritional value for your money.
Lentils are high in fiber and iron, are almost fat-free, high in protein and are an excellent source of folate and magnesium.
Fiber to help with transit time (to keep your digestion going regularly) and to keep blood sugars stable after a meal. The soluble fiber in lentils also helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Iron which is an important mineral for your red blood cells to carry oxygen and to protect from anemia. For vegetarians, lentils are a ‘must’ on the list of foods to have in the diet.
Folate and magnesium are important to heart health. Folate lowers your levels of homocysteine, an important risk factor for heart disease and magnesium helps with blood flow and oxygen levels in the body.
Lentils are rich in nutrition and easy to cook and prepare
Lentils are the easiest legume (bean) to prepare because in as little as one hour (or less depending on the lentil brand) you have a bean that is soft and ready to eat. Lentils come in various types, but for this recipe I have used my favorite lentil, the green lentil called Le Puy, coming from the Le Puy region in France. (Yes, I know, this is an Italian recipe with a French lentil twist).
The Le Puy lentil is known for its gastronomic qualities, and is protected by the European Union and in France under an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). The goût fin (delicate) taste of these lentils comes from the ‘terroir’ land in which they are grown. Le Puy lentils have a light sugared taste and thin outside skins (which reduces their cooking time compared to other types of lentils). For this recipe use your favorite lentils, but if you can find Le Puy green lentils, I highly recommend! (Here is a link from Amazon if you want to order online).
Ingredients To Make Recipe for Lentils With Prosciutto Mustard Sauce
- 1 cup of dried lentils (Le Puy or your favorite choice)
- 2 peeled onions (one onion that will be a onion piqué and the other onion chopped)
- 1 peeled carrot
- 2 ounces of prosciutto (4 thin slices), chopped into small squares
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon of strong mustard
- 4 cloves
- Salt and Pepper to taste
How to Make Recipe for Lentils With Prosciutto Mustard Sauce
3. In a large cooking pot, place lentils, cover them with a large amount of water, the onion piqué and the peeled carrot. 4. Cook lentils in their pot for 45 minutes, at low temperature (just small bubbles). Some lentils may need to be cooked up to one hour (check package).
5. Just at mid-cooking point, add a small pinch of salt. Do not salt in the beginning of the cooking, otherwise the lentils will harden.
6. 15 minutes before the lentils are finished cooking, prepare the following prosciutto mustard sauce.
7. For prosciutto mustard sauce: in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil slowly and add the prosciutto slices. Saute the prosciutto just to cook thru, about 2 minutes. Remove prosciutto from pan.
8. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook it until it starts to turn golden and transparent. Add the tablespoon of flour to onions and mix well.
9. Remove one cup of liquid from the cooking lentil pot and add to the pan with onions and flour. Continue to mix while sauce is heating. Add a pinch of pepper.
10. Add the prosciutto back to the onion sauce and continue mixing while the sauce starts to thicken, for about 5 minutes.
11. Lastly, add the mustard to the sauce, incorporate it well and turn off the sauce from heat.
This recipe is part of the Recipe Redux challenge, a recipe collaboration with dietitians worldwide. This month’s theme is sharing our good luck dish for a healthy 2104. Because I adore Italy and love food traditions, this lentil recipe highlights a healthy choice for a prosperous wish for all.
Happy New Year 2014!
Do you have a good luck dish to share? Please do! Or if you have reached the end and want to read more, why not subscribe to BrightonYourHealth monthly newsletter and article updates? By joining you can get your free E-report on “How to Eat Like the French Without the Food Snob Attitude.” Would love to connect with you via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter so please join me there too. Finally, if you know someone who needs a special prosperous 2014, why not pass this recipe onto them?