(Gluten free, Dairy Free and Vegan)
A low-carb and nutritious alternative to pasta with a budget-friendly delicious spin on the traditional pesto sauce.
Hello everyone! I have a delicious healthy recipe to share with you today, to make up for all the chocolate and treats you had yesterday on Valentine’s Day ;).
Depending on which part of the world you come from, you may be familiar with courgetti, aka zucchini noodles, aka courgette spaghetti, aka zucchini spaghetti. Anyways, no matter how you call them, they are an amazing alternative to pasta, as they are low in carbohydrates, low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals! I love love love eating courgettes this way, as it doesn’t feel like you are actually eating vegetables and if you top them with a tasty sauce they are just incredible!
The easiest way to make courgetti, is to use one of those spiralizing machines that luckily enough they don’t cost a fortune and are a great investment if you are looking to cut carbs in your diet or want to start spiralizing any vegetable that comes to hand! But if you don’t have one, don’t despair, you can use a peeler instead and create tagliatelle-looking-like courgettes. Simply use the peeler to cut thinly stripes out of the courgette so that they look a bit like ribbons.
Now, about the pesto sauce.. being Italian, I grew up eating pesto, I absolutely love the taste of fresh basil and the crunchy pine nuts in it, but unfortunately the traditional basil pesto is very high in calories and fats. Plus, it’s quite expensive to prepare, as it usually requires quite a big amount of pinenuts and parmesan cheese. Here in the UK, pine nuts cost around £2.50/100g, so I decided to go for a cheaper option and use cashew nuts, which have a similar mild and nutty flavour but at half the price! I also left out the cheese and substituted it with lemon juice, to give it a zesty flavour and to make this sauce perfect for those of you who are vegan or simply can’t eat dairy. The broccoli give it an extra nutritious boost and add consinstency to the sauce.
To make the pesto sauce I simply boiled the broccoli for about 8 minutes and then blended all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Easy peasy!
Now, let’s talk about all the goodness in this meal! Both the courgette and broccoli will boost your immune system by providing a good amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C, is a very delicate vitamin and gets broken down quite easily. Different cooking methods will have an influence on the amount of vitamins that are kept preserved and absorbed when we eat. Steaming is the best cooking method to ensure most nutrients don’t get lost during cooking. However, at the moment I don’t own a steamer, so for convenience I had to boil the broccoli. I do recommend you use a steamer if you have one, though.
Courgettes are also a good source of fibers (make sure you leave the skin on, as that’s where most of the fibers can be found) and are a good source of potassium too, which is good to keep your blood sugar levels under control and avoid a high spike in insulin (the hormone that tells the sugars what to do and store them as fat). Their high water content will also leave you hydrated and together with the high anti-oxidant properties of the broccoli, you have a winner for a young and great looking skin!
The cashew nuts add a bit of protein content to this dish, but most importantly they are a great source of unsaturated fatty acids, yes the good fats, the ones you should be eating to lower the bad cholesterol. But they are also a good source of minerals such as selenium (which is also a great antioxidant), copper and zinc (to help absorb all the vitamin C this meal provides).
So, this dish is an explosion of goodness, to boost your immune system, keep your skin looking young, lower cholesterol and keep your blood sugars at bay. And there’s a bonus. it tastes delicious!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 200g broccoli florets
- 40ml extra virgin olive oil (approx 3 Tbsp)
- 20g fresh basil
- 50g cashew nuts
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- salt (you will need a couple of pinches, but you can salt to taste)
- 4 courgettes
- Cook the broccoli florets in salted boiling water for about 7-8 minutes (steam instead of boiling if you can), until tender.
- Drain all the excess cooking water and add the broccoli, together with all the other ingredients to a food processor.
- Blend for a few minutes until smooth, season with salt to taste and blend for an extra minute.
- Spiralize the courgettes or use a peeler to create ribbons.
- Stir the pesto in with the courgetti and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the courgettes have softened but are still a bit crunchy.
- Serve with extra crunched cashew nuts and if you want, add some grated hard cheese on top. Enjoy!