One of the best things about watercress is its versatility. An ancient green, watercress is part of the cruciferous (also known as brassica) family of vegetables along withﾠkale, broccoli, rocket and brussel sprouts. Watercress is more peppery than rocket, but it is more flavourful and packs a heap more of a nutritional punch.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, two cups of fresh watercress contains only 7 calories. And eating 2 cups of watercress will meet 212% of vitamin K, 48% of your vitamin C, 44% of vitamin A, 8% ofﾠcalciumﾠand manganese, 6% of potassiumﾠand 4% of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6,ﾠmagnesiumﾠand phosphorus needs for the day. What’s not to like?
Watercress is most commonly eaten fresh in salads, as a garnish or in sandwiches. However, watercress can also be incorporated into pastas, casseroles and sauces just like any other green. Watercress will sauté faster than tougher greens like kale and lends a mild, slightly peppery taste. It also makes for fantastic soups, both creamy and clear. Add watercress to your next omelette or scrambled eggs. Looking for something to go with crackers or crudités? You can’t go past Watercress pesto and creamy dips.
1 bunch of watercress (about 75 g)
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
50-75ml olive oil
50g fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Place watercress, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and puree them lightly.
Drizzle in the oil until slightly runny.
Place in a bowl and stir in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Creamy Watercress Dip
Creamy cottage cheese combines with watercress, lemon, chive, and parsley to make a bright dip for raw vegetables.
About 120g 0f watercress
1 cup cottage cheese
1⁄4ﾠcup each roughly chopped chives and parsley
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Purée watercress, cottage cheese, chives, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
Pork Rib and Watercress Soup
This nutritious soup is good anytime you need a pick-me-up or just to keep you warm on a cool, rainy day. Chinese dates are supposed to be good for circulation and to relieve stress.
1/2 kgﾠmeaty pork ribs
1 bunchﾠwatercress, washed thoroughly
6ﾠdried Chinese dates (red or black)
2cm pieceﾠginger, sliced lengthwise and smashed
In a large pot, combine the ribs and enough water to cover by about 5cm. Bring to a rolling boil. Drain the ribs into a colander over the sink to get rid of fat and scum and return them to the pot.
In the meantime, trim the watercress, separate the leaves and stems and chop the stems into small pieces.
Add about 2 litres of water to the pot followed by the watercress stems, dates, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cover. Simmer gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the ribs are tender.
Add the watercress leaves and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the leaves turn dark green. Stir in the salt and sugar. Serve immediately.
Summer Mango, Watercress
and Pomegranate Salad
This summer salad is the perfect match for any occasion. It is packed with flavour and nutrient rich watercress and spinach.
1/4 pomegranate, seeds removed and reserved
1 cup watercress
1 cup spinach
1 mango, sliced
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 red onion, sliced (optional)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
Place washed watercress and spinach on platter, followed by mango, pomegranate, feta, if you like you could add some red onion.
To make the dressing, pour lemon juice, zest, olive oil and garlic into a small bowl and whisk until combined.
Matakana salad of oranges, beetroot, watercress & fried haloumi
12 baby beetroot
3 large oranges, peeled with a knife
1/2 cup fresh hazelnuts, roasted in a hot oven until golden, then roughly chopped
2 cups young watercress, washed and stalks removed
12 thick slices haloumi cheese
4 tbsp light-style olive oil
1/2 cupmint leaves, sliced
3 tbspsherry vinegar
6 tbspextra virgin olive oil
Simmer the beetroot in water until tender. Remove, allow to cool, and peel the skins off. Cut the oranges into segments and place in a bowl with the hazelnuts and watercress. Mix the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and toss together. Divide the salad between six plates and add baby beetroot to each plate.
To grill the cheese, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the cheese and very gently cook it on each side until it turns golden and the centre is molten. Top each salad with two hot slices of cheese, scatter over the mint leaves, and serve at once.
Watercress Potatoes With Smoked Kahawai
800g potatoes, peeled and sliced into 2cm-thick slices
A small bunch of spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 bunches of watercress, washed and large stalks removed
A splash of flavourless oil
150g crème fraiche
200ml skimmed milk
250g smoked trout, (kahawai) skinned, boned and flaked
A squeeze of lemon
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the potatoes in a large pan of salted water, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
In a lidded pan large enough to take the watercress, add a generous splash of oil and heat over a medium to high heat. Add the watercress and toss until it starts to wilt. Put the lid on for aﾠminute, so that the stalks soften.
Remove the lid and pour in the milk, bring to a simmer and add the crème fraiche, then pour the whole lot into aﾠfood processor and whizz to a green-flecked sauce.
When the potatoes are ready, drain and refresh under cold water so they don't cook any more. Toss the sauce and potatoes together, season to taste and spoon half of them into a baking dish that will fit them all snugly.
Mix together the smoked kahawai, spring onions and lemon.
Flatten out the potatoes and cover with the smoked fish mixture. Cover with the rest of the potatoes, pouring over any remaining watercress sauce.
Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked.
Creamy Watercress Soup
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups (1.5l) water
450g potatoes, peeled and diced
225g (about 9 cups) of watercress leaves and tender stems
1 cup (150g) fresh or frozen peas
Melt the butter. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the waterﾠand dicedﾠpotato and cook, partially covered, until the potato cubes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the watercress and peas, stirring a few times to wilt the cress.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender. ﾠIf you want a creamier soup, blend a few tablespoons of heavy cream or creme fraiche into the soup
Once the soup is pureed, rewarm the soup in the pot, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
You can garnish this soup in any number of ways – from a spoonful of yogurt or cream swirled over the top with fresh herbs, to a handful of seeds or bits of crumbled bacon strewn over the top.
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