Still in summer holiday mode, I’m toying around the edges of the 5-2 diet. A day here and there to combat a constant stream of overindulgences is all I can currently comfortably manage. In all honesty I’m not yet ready to commit to a full blown fast day plan of attack until late January when school resumes and a modicum of structure returns to my day. There’s way too much temptation in play.
Yesterday I picked up big vibrant bunches of broccoli at the market. Stalks and all. We eat a lot of broccoli in our house, particularly so in the winter months when there’s a narrower range of fresh produce available and cruciferous vegetables are at their very best. In summer, spoilt for choice with a wide ever changing array of peak season offerings on hand, poor old broccoli rarely gets a look in. Needless to say it’s been quite a while since it’s made such a welcome appearance at my table.
Today’s summery fast day broccoli “rice” salad idea is a tongue in cheek take on all those faddish low carb cauliflower “rice” recipes that have been populating the internet and pinterest boards for quite some time now. Granted, looking back through my files, even I’ve successfully road-tested this clever trend before, posting a 5-2 cauliflower “couscous” recipe some 15 months ago. Today’s version “rices” broccoli in place of cauliflower and combines it with classic southern Italian flavours of bacon, chilli, garlic and parmesan cheese. Reminiscent of one of my family’s favourite broccoli pasta dishes.
Served warm (or cold) it’s topped with very thin slices of lightly pickled broccoli stalk for added depth and interest. A throwback to time spent in my mama’s kitchen where the maxim “waste not, want not” was the mantra of the day. And another excuse to put my favourite new gadget – the spiraliser – to good use. No spiraliser? Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to shave thin slices off a neatly trimmed stalk. No time or inclination to fuss about with the pickling? Simply “rice” those stalks alongside the broccoli florets. The salad is equally delicious either way for a tiny 115 calories per cup serve.
Warm Broccoli ‘Rice’ Salad With Bacon, Garlic, Chilli And Parmesan
Makes 5 cups (115 calories per cup serve)
3 medium heads (600g) broccoli, florets and stalks (204 calories)
2 teaspoons white sugar (40 calories)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (5 calories)
3 rashers (150g) shortcut bacon (144 calories)
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced (8 calories)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes (3 calories)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (5 calories)
2 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated (42 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To Prepare The Broccoli
SEPARATE broccoli into florets and stalks.
TRIM away any tough or woody outer layers from each stalk, then using a sharp knife, vegetable peeler or spiraliser, slice or shred into long thin strips. Set aside.
WORKING in batches, pulse the florets in a food processor until it breaks down into rice-sized pieces.
To Prepare The Salad
PLACE thinly sliced broccoli stalks into a bowl. Sprinkle over sugar and a generous pinch of sea salt. Toss to combine then pour over vinegar. Leave to stand as you prepare the remainder of the salad.
FINELY dice bacon. Add to a dry wok over high heat and cook until golden and crisp.
REDUCE heat to medium, add olive oil, garlic and chilli. Fry until fragrant.
ADD broccoli ‘rice’ to the wok. Sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until broccoli just begins to soften a little, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Remove from heat and stir through balsamic vinegar.
STRAIN lightly pickled broccoli stalks through a sieve and pat dry with with paper towel.
TO SERVE, transfer broccoli rice to a large serving platter, scatter over thinly sliced stalks. Finish with a grating of parmesan cheese.