The word 'Fiber' used to bring pictures of unattractive Oat Bran muffins and Metamucil to my mind, until recently. Today, we're conscious of the nutrition value on a can of beans or oatmeal while shopping. We watch out for high fiber content in the foods we buy- making sure it is just enough to satisfy our body's fiber needs. What is fiber? It is an integral part of a plant that your body cannot digest and it could come from whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits or vegetables. That doesn't sound very appetizing now, does it? It may even sound horrific(undigestible plant food), but it's really quite good for you. The discovery that fiber can help in heart, diabetes and even gastrointestinal health has made it the most sought-after dietery ingredient among health 'nuts'.
While on my quest for fibre rich products, I came across a familiar yellow oval Spaghetti Squash and bright green Broccoli Rabe. What caught my eye was this vegetable that I hadn't brought home in years, the Spaghetti Squash. It is versatile, loaded with fiber and very satisfying. Although most of its calories come from natural sugars it also contains high nutrients and much lower carbs than pasta. I split the squash into halves and gently placed it in a Microwave in a bowl filled with water cooking each half for some 20 mins. Then remove the cooked flesh away from the skin and voila you can serve this with plain old salt and pepper. But this squash has the relative texture of pasta, is a fantastic substitute and even looks like spaghetti.
Broccoli Rabe is a bit bitter when serving it steamed, so a little pulse with nuts and cheese and you have a phenomenal pesto. While my date with this long lost friend went really well, here's how it became memorable............
Anne Burrell had a marvelous recipe for Broccoli Rabe Pesto that I 've been wanting to make for some time. It
had potential for change so here it is with my own twists and turns:
1 cup Broccoli rabe tough stems removed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Lemon juice- 2 Tblspn
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the Broccoli Rabe in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge in ice water to stop the cooking.
This will keep the color of the Rabe bright and attractive. Measure out 1 cup Broccoli rabe leaves to make the pesto and keep the rest aside to serve aside the Squash.
Drain the broccoli rabe and squeeze out any excess water; coarsely chop. Place the broccoli rabe in the bowl of a food processor and puree until it is a coarse paste. Add the nuts and parmigiano and puree until smooth.
Taste and adjust the seasoning; you probably will need more salt.
Add the yogurt and pulse until combined. Taste for seasoning once again-it should be full-flavored, slightly bitter and creamy at the same time. Set aside.
Cook the Squash in the microwave (when baked, I noticed a change in color) in a bowl of water for 10 mins.Cool and gently remove the strands of squash using a fork and into a shallow glass dish.
Add 1 tspn of freshly ground black pepper (white pepper if you have it in the pantry) a little melted butter or EVOO as needed and toss in the pesto allowing the strands to be completed covered. Serve with fresh bread or a salad.