In the GI News Kitchen

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American dietitian and author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Johanna Burani, shares favourite recipes with a low or moderate GI from her Italian kitchen. For more information, check out Johanna’s website. The photographs are by Sergio Burani. His food, travel and wine photography website is HERE.


Matteo’s chickpea soup
My son, Matteo, who lives in Friuli, was visiting us recently. He loves to cook, so I asked him to suggest a recipe off the top of his head that I could develop for GI News. Being a creative cook, Matteo just thinks in terms of good, fresh ingredients and then invents something scrumptious. So he gave me a list of eight ingredients that he uses to make a chickpea soup. I worked out the quantities and cooking times and added a few personal touches of my own. The recipe below is our combined effort. I prepared two versions of the soup, one with dry and the other with canned chickpeas. Italians never use canned beans. But for those unaccustomed to cooking with some advanced preparation (albeit minimal), I wanted to present a quicker version. Surprisingly, the tastes were quite similar to each other, with the dried chickpea version tasting a bit more earthy.
Servings: 7 (approx. 1 cup each)

225 g (8 oz/1 1/3 cups) dried chickpeas or 1½ x 600 g (19 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots, cut into ½ cm (¼-inch) horizontal slices
1 small onion (yellow or red), sliced
1–2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 heaping tablespoon fresh rosemary, needles only
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes, San Marzano type
6 cups vegetable broth (homemade if possible) for the dried chickpeas; 3 cups for the canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt (or to taste)
30 g (1 oz) medium pasta shells

Chickpea soup

  • If using the dried chickpeas, rinse and place them in a bowl with abundant water. Cover the bowl and set aside overnight.
  • Place the next five ingredients (carrots through rosemary) in a food processor. Pulse 25 times (15 seconds) or until all ingredients are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat the oil and add the chopped ingredients. Saute over moderate heat for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the chickpeas (soaked and drained, or canned), tomatoes, broth and salt, mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and cook as follows: the dried chickpeas for 1 hour; the canned chickpeas for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. In small batches, blend the soup until smooth (30–40 seconds). Return to the pot and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When cooked, drain and add to the soup. Serve hot with freshly grated cheese (optional).

Per serving
Energy: 560 kJ/ 140 cals; Protein 6 g; Fat 3 g (includes 0 g saturated fat and 0 mg cholesterol); Carbs23 g; Fibre 5 g.

Cut back on the food bills and enjoy fresh-tasting, easily prepared, seasonal, satisfying and delicious low or moderate GI meals that don’t compromise on quality and flavour one little bit with Money Saving Meals author Diane Temple. People often say to me, ‘I’d love to eat more fresh fish or seafood, but it’s too expensive.’ To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Seafood School this November, Roberta Muir the School’s Manager, suggested this relatively inexpensive seafood dish. For more money-saving recipes, visit Diane’s website.

Barbecued chilli octopus with red capsicum & tzatziki
‘You can use calamari, cuttlefish or squids (cut into strips), large green prawns/shrimp (omit the boiling water) for this dish if you prefer,’ says Roberta. Although the recipe uses 1/2 cup of olive oil for the marinade, this isn’t actually cooked with the octopus. In our recipe analysis we have assumed a couple of tablespoons of oil sticks during cooking. We haven’t priced this one as the cost of seafood can vary from place to place and week to week.
Serves 4

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby octopus, cleaned and quartered
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, for marinating
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 small red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1½ teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
2 red capsicums, seeded and cut into chunks

1 small Lebanese cucumber
1 clove garlic, crushed
200 g (7 oz) tub Greek-style plain yoghurt (reduced fat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

BBQ chilli octopus

  • Pour boiling water over octopus, leave to stand for 1–2 minutes then drain.
  • Combine the olive oil, garlic, chilli, oregano, and capsicum in a bowl. Add octopus, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make the tzatziki: halve the cucumber, discard the seeds and grate coarsely. Place in a clean tea towel and squeeze to remove any excess moisture. Combine with garlic, yoghurt, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Heat a barbecue or char-grill plate. Arrange the capsicum on the grill, skin-side down. Cook until the skin starts to blister, turn, cook for another minute or 2 until it colours, then remove and set aside.
  • Remove the octopus from the marinade and cook on the grill for 2–5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is brightly coloured. Arrange capsicum on a serving platter, pile the octopus on top and serve with tzatziki on the side.

Per serving
Energy: 1050 kJ/ 250 cals; Protein 26 g; Fat 12 g (includes 2.5 g saturated fat and 249 mg cholesterol); Carbs 9 g; Fibre 2 g.

Recipe supplied by FISHline, Sydney Fish Market’s free consumer advisory service. Visit the FISHline pages at for more great seafood recipes, advice on seafood purchasing, storage and cooking, species information and answers to frequently asked seafood questions.