09 Feb Dynamic duos: Food pairings that shine togetherSauteed Baby Broccoli and Tomato Pizza with Toasted Pine Nuts by Sydne George food writer for the Great Falls Tribune
Some things were just meant to go together — those perfect pairings in life, where one brings out the best in the other, creating a winning combination.
Recent studies have shown that the collaboration between certain foods can work to provide bonus benefits in the body.
An everyday example of this effect, referred to as food synergy, would be the ever-popular peanut butter sandwich.
When made with quality peanut butter and whole wheat bread, the unassuming standby provides the necessary components needed to make the best kind of protein, used to build and maintain muscle in your body.
Another classic combination that delivers more bang for the buck is a spinach salad with oranges, or any ironrich leafy green coupled with a citrus fruit. Vitamin C from the fruit helps the body better absorb iron in the greens, carrying oxygen to the red blood cells and working to ward off muscle fatigue.
While tomatoes are known for containing the healthy antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to prevent cancer and heart disease, you can boost their nutritional value by drizzling them with a little olive oil.
Broccoli and tomatoes are another dynamic duo, also shown to have possible cancerfighting properties when eaten together.
Researchers have found that a general rule to follow with food synergy is to combine three or more different colored vegetables with a healthy fat such as avocados, olive oil or nuts.
It’s true that two are better than one, and when certain foods work together, the health benefits delivered to your body become significantly greater.
Here are two new ways to cook up some winning combinations in the kitchen.
SPINACH SALAD WITH AVOCADOS, ORANGES AND CANDIED WALNUTS
For the dressing:
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a pint jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake to combine thoroughly.
For the candied walnuts:
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt sugar.
Add walnuts and stir to coat. Spread candied walnuts over waxed paper to cool.
For the salad:
6-ounce package baby spinach
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
2 oranges, peeled and diced
Toss dressing with spinach, avocado and oranges in large bowl.
Top with candied walnuts.
You easily could add cooked chicken or shrimp to make this an entree salad. Serves four.
SAUTEED BABY BROCCOLI AND TOMATO PIZZA WITH TOASTED PINE NUTS
12 ounces pizza dough (buy refrigerated pizza dough or make your own)
½ cup tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. salt
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup olive oil, divided
12 ounces baby broccoli, stems trimmed off
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced thinly
½ cup pine nuts
¾ cup mozzarella, sliced into thin slices
Preheat oven to 425°.
On a lightly floured board, roll pizza dough out to 15-by-15-inch square.
Transfer to baking sheet, brush with olive oil and bake in preheated oven for about seven to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, seasoning, garlic and salt.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil to thin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium high heat.
Saute baby broccoli in olive oil, turning once. Remove from pan and set aside.
Wipe out pan and add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Saute tomato slices, turning once. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toast pine nuts in a 350° oven for about five minutes.
Brush cooled crust with tomato paste mixture.
Arrange sauteed baby broccoli and sauteed tomato slices over tomato paste.
Top with mozzarella cheese slices and toasted pine nuts.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and crust is golden brown all over.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at email@example.com.