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Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Soups with Beans, Lentils, and Meats

Mediterranean peasants originally created soups as a way to put together a meal from the scraps of food they had on hand. Adding beans, lentils, and meats to your soups creates a heartier soup that can often serve as a complete meal. Serve these soups in a bowl with some crusty whole-wheat bread to make a one-pot meal on a cold day.

Minestrone

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 6–8 hours

Yield: 8 servings

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, washed, quartered and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

3 celery stalks, quartered and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

Two 14.5-ounce cans navy beans, drained and rinsed

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

4 Italian chicken sausage links, quartered and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

2 sprigs thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1 cup orzo or other small pasta

3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Salt to taste (optional)

  1. Stir the onions, carrots, celery, beans, tomatoes, stock, sausage, thyme, bay leaves, and sage together in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.

  2. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the orzo and zucchini and cook for 30 minutes on high or until you’re ready to serve. Add salt to taste (if desired).

  3. Divide the soup among eight bowls, removing the bay leaves. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan and serve.

Per serving: Calories 382 (From Fat 98); Fat 11g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 1178mg; Carbohydrate 50g (Dietary Fiber 10g); Protein 23g.

Cabbage and Bean Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

6 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

8 cups water

1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 pound green cabbage, chopped (about 6 cups)

1/2 pound baked ham, cut into 1-inch cubes

One 14.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained

1/4 cup instant polenta

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.

  2. Add the tomatoes (with juice), parsley, bay leaf, and sage; lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the potatoes, cabbage, ham, and beans.

    Cover and drop the heat to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

  4. Whisk in the polenta and continue whisking for 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Per serving: Calories 345 (From Fat 110); Fat 12g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 21mg; Sodium 754mg; Carbohydrate 44g (Dietary Fiber 8g); Protein 17g.

Pasta Fagioli

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ounces pancetta, diced small

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 medium onion, chopped small

2 medium carrots, diced small

2 celery stalks, diced small

6 cloves garlic, sliced

Two 14.5-ounce cans cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed

One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

2 inches Parmesan rind (optional)

1 cup ditalini or other small pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the pancetta and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.

  2. Continue to sauté for 7 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the beans, tomatoes (juice included), and stock. Bring soup to a boil and lower the heat to simmer.

  3. Add the Parmesan rind (if desired) and pasta and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove the rind and discard.

  4. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve each bowl with 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: Calories 290 (From Fat 60); Fat 7g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 796mg; Carbohydrate 42g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Protein 18g.

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