Author Archives: IL Bistro

A Lesson in Lentils by Seattle Italian Restaurant

The Many Benefits of the Tuscan Lentil Diet

Lentils are legumes along with other types of beans. There are about one or two round, oval or heart-shaped disk seeds per pod in brown and green varieties. They are easy to cook and available year round in all markets in Italy. Tuscans love their lentils especially, adding them to soups and stews as they readily absorb the flavors of other foods and seasonings. Lentils also pack a punch of nutritional values that many of us don’t know. Let’s see.

Lentils provide good to excellent amounts of seven important minerals, B-vitamins, and protein, and virtually no fat. A whole cup of cooked lentils is just 230 calories. You can eat lots and not gain weight. They also are a rich source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and prevents the rapid rise of sugar levels after a meal. As a dietary fiber source, lentils have both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble form captures cholesterol-containing bile and carries it out of the body, while the insoluble type helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation.

The heart, too, benefits from these little beans. Lentils have significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate helps lower homocysteine, an amino acid and a risk factor for heart disease if their levels increase, while magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker, normalizing fluctuating blood pressure in the arteries. In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, lentils’ soluble fiber are good for diabetics also. They help balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Truly, you can get a lot of nutritional goodness with the Tuscan lentil diet. The Tuscan way is via lentil soup or stew, delicious and filling, such as the ribolita. The beans also combine well with vegetables like kale, cabbage or tomatoes. Sausages pairs well also.

Lentil dishes at IL Bistro Seattle

Conscious about your weight and diet? Have healthy lentils at IL Bistro, your Seattle Italian restaurant in Pie Place Market. Savor other Italian classics and dine and wine Tuscan-style in our soft, romantic setting.

Experiencing Tuscany in Seattle Italian Restaurant

Typically Tuscan and Traditional

Tuscan cooking uses fresh and simple ingredients of the season including many legumes, cheeses, vegetables and fruits. Let not the simplicity fool you for the flavors of the region’s cooking are rich and the servings are hearty. The everyday market ingredients are so accessible and the preparations are easy. Tuscan homes have generations of cooks who pass on recipes down to the youngest members, hence, meals always have traditional roots.

Looking at typical Tuscan fare, what is served during a meal? Firstly, there’s the white, plain, unsalted loaf of bread that accompanies all meals. It’s bland and that separates it from other loaves of other regions for it is meant to absorb the flavors of sauces and mixes. Tuscan bread can also be flavored with crostini di fegatini or liver paté or grilled with garlic, olive oil and salt to have fettunta that soaks up pure olive oil flavor. Then appetizers are laid out in a wooden board – like cured meats which include prosciutto, salami, and different types of sausages.

A Tuscan dish is a ‘waste not’ meal, making use of leftovers in ingenious ways. The ribollita and the papa al pomodoro are soups that use stale bread as base making thick broths but incorporates fresh inexpensive ingredients, like onions, carrots, celery, kale and cabbage. Other first course dishes are simple pastas such as pappardelle alla lepre o al sugo di cinghiale, an egg noodle pasta with either hare or wild boar sauce.

For the main course, a prime example is the bistecca alla fiorentina, the famous steak of Florence from a special breed of cows is served very rare alongside roasted potatoes and beans. You also find wild game like wild boar, hares, pheasants and other birds prepared as stew or are roasted. Your side dishes are very simple, yet tasty, preparations of green vegetable sauteed in olive oil, chicory in olive oil and garlic, sauteed spinach, multiple ways artichoke, eggplant and fried zucchini flowers, grilled mixed vegetables, side salads, roasted potatoes, and plenty of beans. You can finish off your meal with a simple fruit or cantucci, a small hard, almond-flavored cookie.

Tuscan Fare in Seattle

Are you dining Italian tonight? Then look forward to something memorable, a truly gastronomic experience that captivates the palate and fills the tummy. A Tuscan dinner will take you there. Experience Tuscany in our Italian Seattle restaurant, the IL Bistro, truly traditional and typical.