The message may still be to Stay At Home, but we can dream of holidays to come. This week as you can’t get to Italy for your holiday, we’re bringing you A Taste of Italy with some tasty recipes.

We start off with this lovely soup – a favourite with lots of members and ideal for lunch or a snack later in the day.

Minestrone Soup
Calories Negligible

Simmer the following in stock cube – carrots, swedes, leeks, onions, parsley, celery and pasta shells. When the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked, add a can of chopped tomatoes and season with salt and black pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy. 

Now for that Italian classic –
Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves 2 – approx 400 calories per serving

224g/8oz extra lean minced beef
56g/2oz carrots
112g/4oz whole wheat spaghetti (dry weight)
1 tbsp tomato puree
56g/2oz mushrooms
1 tin chopped tomatoes or passata
Fresh parsley sprigs

Brown the minced beef in a non-stick pan and then drain off all the fat. Slice the mushrooms, dice the carrots, and add to the meat with chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti until just tender and top with the sauce. Garnish with parsley.

And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, try this delicious Tiramisu
Serves 4 – approx. 160 cals per serving

2 heaped tsp. coffee granules or powder
2 tsp brandy (optional)
8 sponge fingers         
1 sachet Bird’s sugar free dream topping
150ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk       
350g/12½oz low-fat fromage frais
Sachet of low cal drinking chocolate to decorate

Mix the coffee with the brandy and make up to 150ml with water. Reserve half the sponge fingers and dip the remainder in the brandied coffee. Arrange the fingers on the base of a serving dish to form a layer. Make up the dream topping and mix in fromage frais. Spoon half the mixture over the sponge fingers in the dish. Dip the reserved sponge fingers in the remaining brandied coffee and place over the mixture in the dish, top with the remaining fromage frais mix. Sprinkle the drinking chocolate to serve. This can also be made into four individual portions. Some members have substituted quark for the fromage frais.

Here are some other Italian ideas –
Marie’s Tip: I make a quick sauce to serve with pasta simply by making up half a packet of Heinz Tomato Cup-a-Soup until quite thick. You can add some cooked chicken, prawns or ham for a quick and tasty meal.   To make it into a healthy Arrabiata sauce, add a few chili flakes for that spicy flavour. Or for a tasty Cabonara, gently warm Philly Extra Light cheese in a saucepan and add a splash of semi skimmed milk, seasoning and some chopped thin ham – a lot healthier and far less calories than the creamy version, but just as tasty!

So just because you can’t get away, try these recipes and bring a taste of Italy into your home.