Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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Blue Zone Food: Steamed, Crispy Vegetables with Olive Oil and Nuts

Science journalist Henrik Ennart has travelled numerous times to “blue zones” – places on our planet where the chances of living to be over 100 are highest. Examples of such zones are the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, the Japanese island of Okinawa, the Greek island of Ikaria and the eastern mountain regions of Sardinia.

In the book, The Blue Food(currently only in Swedish), Henrik and chef Niklas Ekstedt explain the blue zones and the secrets of the good health of the people there. Their book is a combination of their investigations on how to successfully live a long life as well as yummy recipes from their culinary adventures.

The crispy vegetables in today’s post are just one of their “blue zone” recipes, today is a taste of horta – a light evening meal of vegetables that is a tradition on the island of Ikaria. In Henry’s notebook it states that “heavy food, late in the evenings does not seem to be the norm of the long-lived people in the blue zones”. But we’ll leave it up to you if you want to serve this recipe as a full dinner, snack or side dish to fish.

Steamed, Crispy Vegetables with Olive Oil and Nuts
(4 servings)

2 heads of broccoli
1 cauliflower head
1 head of romanesco
1 pointed cabbage (a.k.a sweetheart cabbage)
1 cup of spinach
1 lemon, grated peel and juiced
1 pinch sea salt
¼ cup pistachio nuts
¼ cup olive oil

Boil plenty of salted water in a large saucepan. Clean and cut broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco into bouquets, and then cook the vegetables in the salted water about 1 minute (the center should still be crispy). Cool in ice water. Do not pour out the salted water! Clean the pointed cabbage (remove the outermost leaves if they are not fresh). Boil the entire cabbage in the same salted water for about 1 minute. Remove the cabbage and place it in ice water. Pull off the outermost layers that are softly cooked, set them aside and then repeat the process until the whole head is picked.

Rinse the spinach. Boil ¼ cup of water, lemon juice and grated lemon zest in a wide saucepan. Add in all the vegetables and continue steaming under the lid until they are warm. Drizzle olive oil over and serve with chopped pistachios and sea salt.

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