Maria’s Recipes

Jan 20, 2021 | Food, Recipes

I have an amazing house cleaner who comes from Sardinia, her name is Maria. She comes from the Ogliastra region, where there are an unusual number of centenarians.

This region has become famous thanks to Daniel Buettner’s book The Blue Zones.  The diet and lifestyle of the people that live in this region is considered one of the healthiest in the world.

I often ask Maria what she’s going to prepare for dinner and if it sounds good, I always ask for the recipe, here are some of my favorites:

Risotto alla Zucca (pumpkin risotto)

Ingredients for Pumpkin Risotto
Pumpkin Risotto


  • 3 cups vegetable broth (boil 4 cups of water with 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 stem of celery, 1tsp salt)
  • 1 cup grated pumpkin or butternut squash
  • ½ a yellow onion, grated
  • 1 ½  cups rice
  • 1tbs Extra Vergin Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbs parmesan cheese (optional) 
  • A sprig of fresh parsley

Makes 3-4 servings


Prepare the vegetable broth and let it simmer. Grate the onion and sauté it in a medium sized pan with the oil and 3 tbs of the vegetable broth. Grate a big slice of pumpkin or butternut squash and add it in with the onion, mix until it’s wilted. Add in the rice and mix. When it starts drying up, add in 1 cup of the hot vegetable broth so that the rice is covered and continue mixing, as it dries up, add in more hot broth until the rice is cooked. White rice usually takes about 20 minutes to cook. You can make the same recipe with whole grain rice but I advise you to soak the rice for 6 to 8 hours so it cooks quicker. When ready, add in the cheese and decorate with some fresh parsley leaves.

Minestra verde di Pasta e Ceci (Green Chickpea soup) 

Ingredients for Chickpea Soup

This is one of my absolute favorites as it is a one course meal. It includes carbs (from the pasta and chickpeas), proteins (from the chickpeas) and vegetables. Have a nice fresh mixed salad as a starter, so you get some raw fresh veggies in as well and you are set!


  • 1tbs Extra Vergin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs rosemary
  • ½ an onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small potato
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 broccoli flowerets with about 1 inch of the stem
  • 1 cup chickpeas (canned or soaked overnight and cooked)
  • 1 ½ cups small wholegrain ditalini pasta
  • 2 tsp freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Makes 2 to 3 servings


  1. Chop the rosemary, onion and carrot in a food processor sauté them in the oil and 3 tbsp water (for a healthier option, you can leave out the oil and add it in once the soup is cooked).
  2. Cut the potato in pieces, add in together with the 5 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil, add in some salt, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the chickpeas and the broccoli flowerets, cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Blend the soup (with an emersion blender is easiest).
  6. Add in the ditalini and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes (cooking time should be indicated on the packaging of the ditalini). The consistency should be creamy, if it’s too dry, add in a little more water.

Serve and enjoy.