For Best Results try Living the Mediterranean Diet

For Best Results try “Living” the Italian
and Mediterranean Diet

Guest Writer: Bobbie Kitto
Edited by Linda Kissam
Plus 2 recipes to try
Insalata di mare/Seafood Salad
Cannellini Beans with Artichoke Hearts and Dandelion Greens

Recently I read two books having to do with getting the most benefits out of the Mediterranean diet and cooking the Italian way. After reviewing the two books I found that both books offer a unique perspective.

I learned why most people don’t achieve their diet goals when practicing the Mediterranean diet. It seems  they didn’t embrace the essence of the life style, and without understanding the culture, you are doomed to fail. The same thing with Italian cooking.

To be a rock star you have to not only have the best recipes, you have to have an “Italian soul.” Author Amy Riolo shows you how to achieve “simpatico” by explaining the Italian philosophy of food and life.

Mediterranean Lifestyle for dummies authored by Amy Riolo has over 30 recipes to help start you on your more healthful eating habits.  This book explains the philosophy of the people of that region and how it is reflected in their cooking and outlook on life.

Now you might think that knowing the philosophy of the people is not important to your success in following their diet, but you would be wrong.  The most important factor in the Mediterranean diet is how you approach life.  This book really explains  how to achieve a more peaceful and happy life while losing weight with delicious recipes as demonstrated with Cannellini Beans with Artichoke Hearts and Dandelion Greens on page 223.

Amy Riolo’s book entitled Italian Recipes for Dummies is her 11th book. In this book she breaks down the mystery of how to cook Italian that tastes like you were born and raised in an Italian family who showed their love for life through their cooking.  Here again Amy explains how knowing the history and culture of the food you are preparing adds to your pleasure as the cook and for the guests.

An example of knowing the culture is given in the recipe demonstrated on her video presentation entitled Insalata di mare/Seafood Salad a Christmas Eve appetizer. Find it on page 81 of the book.

Amy is an international chef, television personality, and educator. She also owns her own line of specialty foods called Amy Riolo Selections. In her spare time she leads Eno-gastronomic tours to Italia, Greece, and Morocco with Indigo Gazell Tours. From reading her books, I can tell those tours are going on my bucket list!

Here’s a few things you can look forward to in these two books.

  1. More than 30 delicious, simple, and authentic Mediterranean recipes from various countries in the region from appetizers to snacks, mains, and dessert.
  2. Living the Mediterranean Approach to Food – Benefit from ancient wisdom which has enabled people to survive and thrive well into their 90s for millennia
  1. Achieving the Mediterranean Lifestyle Abroad – Adopt a food-friendly approach that makes cooking for yourself, friends, and family an opportunity for fun and memorable experiences
  2. Making Mealtimes Sacred – Organize your life around Mediterranean principles so making simple, healthy foods becomes second nature
  3. Enjoying Pleasurable Activity – Make time for yourself, your family, and your friends by reconnecting with the outdoors, siestas, and communal meals

Both of these books are going to be well used in my kitchen. Here are two recipes for you to try.

Insalata di mare/Seafood Salad





4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Juice and zest from 1 large lemon

1 pound dry scallops

1 bay leaf

3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound boneless, skinless cod, haddock, or other white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound baby squid tubes, cleaned and sliced in small rings

1/2 cup Amy Riolo Selections or other good-quality extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 pound mussels, scrubbed well

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Additional lemon slices, for garnish


1. Place the tomatoes, carrot, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a large bowl, and mix well.

2. Bring a medium-size pot @@bf3/4 full of water to boil over high heat.

3. Lower the heat to medium, and add the scallops and bay leaf. Cook, uncovered, until scallops are opaque, approximately 1 minute. Remove scallops with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels. Add the shrimp and fish to the water, and cook until opaque, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to another dish lined with paper towels. Add the squid and cook for approximately 40 seconds, until rings begin to tighten slightly. Remove with a slotted spoon into a colander. Immediately transfer squid to a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking.

4. Add 2 tablespoons EVOO and garlic cloves to a large, wide skillet with a fitted lid over a medium-high flame. When oil is hot, add mussels, toss to coat, and add @@bf1/2 cup water over the top. Cover and cook for 2–4 minutes until mussels are open (cooked). Remove opened mussels, and set aside. If any mussels fail to open after another minute or two of cooking, discard them.

5. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking the EVOO and lemon juice together until emulsified.

6. Add the seafood to a salad bowl, and stir to combine. Drizzle with dressing, and stir. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon slices, and serve immediately.


Reserve this recipe, a traditional Christmas Eve appetizer that can be enjoyed anytime, for a time when the freshest seafood and produce possible are available to you.

Pair this dish with a bottle of Passerina di Offida or similar. A white wine with a slender body, low alcohol, and a taste profile underlined by freshness, sapidity, and tropical notes.

Cannellini Beans with Artichoke Hearts and Dandelion Greens





1/4 cup Amy Riolo Selections Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or other good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 bunches fresh dandelion greens, chopped

1 cup cooked cannellini beans

2 cups cooked artichoke hearts

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus 4 leaves for garnish

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar


1. In a large, wide skillet, place 2 tablespoons of the oil and warm over medium heat.

2. Add the dandelion greens and stir with a wooden spoon, cooking, uncovered, until tender and wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, artichoke hearts, basil, and garlic, and cook together for a few minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

3. When ready to serve, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or small plates, garnish with basil leaves, and serve warm.


Calories 248 (From Fat 129); Fat 14g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 259mg; Carbohydrate 26g (Dietary Fiber 13g); Protein 7g.


If you can’t find dandelion greens, you can use chicory or Swiss chard instead. You can replace the cannellini beans with cranberry beans or chickpeas, too.


Puree the beans prior to serving and add the cooked greens and artichokes to the top. Alternately, heat some stock and cook all three ingredients in it — perhaps adding in a bit of wheatberries, rice, or barley for a delicious and unique minestra, which is an Italian soup made with various combinations of legumes, grains, and vegetables.


Beans and greens of all stripes and cooking preparations are popular in my ancestral homeland of Southern Italy, as well as around the Mediterranean. Enjoying a meal based around a dish like this daily is a great idea. I love dandelion greens because their taste reminds me of my childhood. They also provide more than five times the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which strengthens bones and may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Dandelion greens also give the body 112 percent of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A as an antioxidant carotenoid, which is needed for the skin, mucus membranes, and vision. There are so many additional nutrients to list — in fact, their ancient Latin name meant “official disease remedy.” Learning to love them in lots of preparations will benefit you immensely.

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Italian Recipes for Dummies
by Amy Riolo | Mar 29, 2022
Paperback Appx $16

Mediterranean Lifestyle for Dummies
by Amy Riolo  | Oct 26, 2021
Paperback Appx $16

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Bobbie Kitto

Note: Roberta (Bobbie) Kitto is a freelance writer based out of Laughlin, NV. Her interests include travel, culinary pursuits and gardening. No fee was paid for this article, but she did receive a copy of the book to review . Her opinions are her own.

The type of ingredients you use makes a difference in how your dish turns out. Bobbie suggests you use Melissa’s products whenever possible. Melissa’s products are found in most gourmet markets and regular supermarkets.

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