Friday, 19 February 2016

I Love Watercress. I really, really do....

What? you don't love watercress?

Are you MAD?

What if I tell you just how good for you it is?  No, come on. It's not medicine...

What if I tell you that green things are so of the moment? No, honestly, look, watercress is trending, it's a superfood! See, you can be trendy too? No?

What if I tell you that it is delicious? Maybe one of the most delicious green things you will ever eat?
Ah!  That gets your interest does it?

I am so lucky; I was butting in on a conversation on Twitter with @Love_Watercress and the fabulous PR lady Pam Lloyd, and found myself the lucky recipient of a beautiful box of fresher than fresh, sparkling green watercress to play with.

Shall I tell you what I made? Or would it bore you silly?
Oh. Well.... sorry, you will have to stay silly.

I made soup. Well, of course I did.  Three different, stunningly green soups.  No don't yawn like that. Soup is amazingly good for you, and these are also amazingly delicious.

Funnily enough, though they all taste different, they all have a similar base. Finely chopped onion, leek, shallot and potato (not too much potato, just enough to bind when you blitz the soup) softened in a large lump of unsalted butter.

Then I added:

For just Watercress Soup, the stems of a very large bunch of watercress and about 2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock**. Simmer until the potato is very well cooked, then remove from the heat. Add in the RAW roughly chopped watercress leaves (keep a few for garnish if you like) and blitz the lot in a blender.  (I usually use my stick blender, but a jug blender or Nutribullet type will give a smoother soup. Your call.) 

Then I made Pea and Watercress Soup. As above, but when you add the watercress stalks, you also add about half a packet of frozen peas.  This was gorgeous as a broth, with the pieces of vegetable still intact, and also blitzed.  (I had a little bread roll stuffed with watercress alongside the broth, oh! that was such a good lunch! )

Then it was Use Up The Stuff In The Fridge day.  I would usually make a minestrone, but I was still in Green Mode. So this is my Green Soup;  to the base onion/leek/potato simmering in the butter, I added a couple of sticks of chopped celery, and one small piece of fennel, and sprinkled it all with some Italian dried herbs (fresh would be better, but there were none in the bottom of the fridge this week.)

This was all simmered with the stock** until the potatoes were tender, then I added a chopped courgette, a chopped stalk of broccoli and the watercress leaves. I brought it JUST to the boil, and this I served as a broth. But I reckon it would blitz nicely too if you fancy a smooth soup.

**(I like to use Essential Cuisine stock powders if I don't have home made stock around. As they are powder I can vary the amount according to how much intensity of flavour I need. For these soups I don't need much, the vegetables have so much flavour anyway.)

But life with watercress is not all about the soups, oh no.  Do you fancy a nice orangey salad?

I found this recipe on the Californian Walnuts site, and it sounded so fresh and tasty.

It was really easy, made in minutes.  I ignored the quantities in the original recipe, I was making a side salad for two of us, not feeding the five thousand, so used:

One blood (but ordinary is fine) orange, rind zested, flesh cut into segments. (keep all the juice from the segments to add to the vinaigrette)
One handful of radishes, finely sliced
One shallot - finely slice one half for the salad, finely chop the other half for the dressing
One handful of watercress, pulled into manageable pieces.

Arrange this nicely on two plates or dishes. Then dress with an orange vinaigrette made from:

The finely chopped half shallot from above
The zest and reserved juice from the orange above
Two tablespoons of sherry vinegar (or other wine vinegar, but Maille sherry vinegar is delicious)
6 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
(The original recipe called for honey to sweeten, I thought the oranges sweet enough, but you might like it, in which case add it to taste)
Whisk everything together and drizzle over the salad. You probably won't need it all, so keep some for another day - it will keep covered in the fridge for around 3 days.

Top the salad with a handful of crumbled walnuts.

And finally, I added a fat handful of chopped watercress to the potato, onion and cabbage of bubble and squeak I made to go with some cold ham.

So. I think that is enough for you to be going along with.  Let me know how you get along, with photos on my Instagram account please!  You'll find pictures of all these recipes there as well as here, so do feel free to comment there if it is easier for you :)

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