Sardinia is an inland village located in the Mediterranean sea. The Ogliastra region of Sardinia is actually the first Blue Zone region we identified. It was a shocking fact to the researchers when they found out that there are 10 times more “centenarians” than the U.S. has!
How do Sardinians live? Well, they in fact maintain a very traditional Mediterranean lifestyle; they put family first, they eat healthy and they feed themselves by fishing and growing crops. A couple “centenarians” have mentioned that one of their secrets of living long and healthy is to drink a glass of wine every day.
The traditional Mediterranean diet the Sardinians follow puts emphasis on whole grains and healthy fat, especially fish that are rich in omega 3 fatty acid. They help in maintaining a healthy heart by lowering our cholesterol levels. The Sardinians also consume a lot of vegetables and dairy products. Vegetables provide them with essential vitamins and minerals, while dairy products really help the bones. They rarely eat foods that have added sugar and fat, which are basically foods that are highly processed.
What can we learn from the Sardinian diet? Well, don’t just listen to the wine part, but do focus on family, friends and physical activity. We definitely do not have to hit the gym every single day if we are not enjoying it. In fact, taking a walk every morning to work or after dinner with your loved ones can be just beneficial. In terms of diet, lower the amount of processed food we consume and try to eat whole foods. So, how about a nice and warm home-cooked dinner tonight with family?
A bountiful dish that is eaten every day for lunch by the some of the world’s longest-lived families in Sardinia, Italy. It can be made with seasonal vegetables from the garden, but always includes beans and fregula, a toasted pebble-size semolina pasta that is popular in Sardinia.
1⁄2 cup dried peeled fava beans
1⁄2 cup dried cranberry beans
1⁄3 cup dried chickpeas
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped (about 1 cup) 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2⁄3 cup) 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (about 31⁄2 cups)
3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (about 11⁄2 cups)
1 1⁄2 cups chopped fennel
1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped 2 tablespoons
chopped fresh basil leaves
2⁄3 cup of Sardinian fregula, Israeli couscous, or acini di pepe pasta
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup finely grated pecorino Romano (about 2 ounces)
Soak the fava beans, cranberry beans, and chickpeas in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours (that is, overnight). Drain in a colander set in the sink. Rinse well.
Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery; cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley, and basil, as well as the drained beans and chickpeas. Add enough water (6 to 8 cups) so that everything is submerged by 1 inch.
Raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, uncovered, until the beans are tender, adding more water as necessary if the mixture gets too thick, about 11⁄2 hours.
Stir in the pasta, salt, and pepper. Add up to 2 cups water if the soup seems too dry. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each off our serving bowls. Divide the soup among them and top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese.
Tip: You can vary the beans in the minestrone: pinto beans make a good substitute for cranberry beans; great northern or cannellini beans, for the favas.
Tip: Use the stalks and fronds that come off a fennel bulb for the most intense flavor. No feathery fronds on the bulb? Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the aromatic vegetables you sauté to begin the dish.
Tip: Add other fresh vegetables from the garden or market, such as zucchini, cabbage, green beans, and cauliflower or broccoli florets.
Tip: Want a stronger tomato taste? Stir in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. You get the idea!
Image from: http://www.italymagazine.com/sardinia