Susan and her family’s experiment to increase the amount of watercress in their diets continues. Based in Glasgow, Susan and her wife who are both keen amateur runners are eager to explore the benefits that watercress offers sportspeople, protecting against DNA damage, while providing a healthy diet for their young child is obviously a must.
Here is Episode 3 in their watercress journey.
Week 3 Day 1
So, this week I faced a dilemma. We had a weekend booked up North and I didn’t want my delivery of watercress to go to waste so I needed some watercress recipes that could be frozen. I didn’t really have time to do much food prep, so my thought was to ‘donate’ some to the grandparents in the hope that they would have leftovers. Well, I can report that they made watercress soup. It was delicious, apparently. And there was none to spare.
My plan for free soup had fallen flat on its face and then our trip away was cut short; so I found myself with time to spare and meals to find. In our house we’re all big fans of South East Asian cooking. A lot of it has to do with our love of fresh coriander which features heavily in Thai and Vietnamese recipes. It occurred to me that watercress is similar in appearance and texture to coriander. It also has a strong flavour, so I wondered if I could use it in a pad thai recipe I had found.
Compared with a lot of Thai cooking, the recipe was simple: fry up some garlic, onion and ginger, add one raw egg per person and scramble for a couple of minutes. Then throw in some par-cooked rice noodles with the pad thai sauce and add your pre-cooked meat.
It’s an easy vegetarian recipe if you swap the meat for cashew nuts or tofu and you can omit the nuts if there are allergies.
The sauce is a mixture of equal parts rice vinegar (I ran out and substituted white wine vinegar), light soy sauce, brown sugar and fish sauce. Instead of the fish sauce you can use miso paste, tamarind or teriyaki sauce. We’re away at a vegan 40th birthday party in the Peak District next weekend so I’ll be taking my wok and watercress with me and omitting the egg.
I like to batch cook and freeze because some nights the wee one makes it impossible to even boil an egg. But watercress on its own doesn’t freeze well so I needed something that was quick and easy.
I fancied trying my hand at some baking and decided to add watercress to a plain scone recipe, so I could freeze the extras. And freezing means there is less temptation to eat the lot!
There’s never been much need to bake scones in my family because my dad usually brings a batch every time he’s over. His philosophy is that there’s no need to add sugar to something you put jam on, so we’ve grown up knowing that scones are the healthy alternative to cake. And cake with watercress - well, that’s food for thought for a future blog post! However, it’s the end of the apple season at the moment, so my dad has turned his hand to making apple crumble on an industrial scale meaning there’s a gap in our house for savoury scones.
Anyway, scones were a perfect choice since they entail a proper store cupboard recipe that calls for milk, butter and self-raising flour and optional salt, which we always omit, then brushed with egg. It’s easy enough to leave off the egg and make with soya milk and dairy-free spread for vegan visitors too.
I specifically googled a recipe for watercress scones to see what was out there. Most recipes called for cheese but the wee one ate a lot during our holiday in France and I’ve been trying to reduce the amount she gets due to the high salt and fat content.
If you’re looking for a recipe for some rather special savoury watercress scones, try these by The Watercress Company’s very own development chef, Keri Astill-Frew.
The wee one loved her healthy treat. I even felt generous and donated a couple to the in-laws to have with their begrudged soup. In typical mother-in-law fashion I was told that I could have chopped the watercress a bit finer, but they tasted lovely. High praise indeed!
Today I wanted a quick healthy lunch, but I feel cheated if I have a bland sandwich when I’m not at work. Still in French mode, I bought a granary baguette, cut it in half and blitzed together watercress, feta and tomato. It was a bit bland, so I squeezed half a lemon over the top which gave the burst of flavour it needed. It gave me my cheese fix but also a couple of my 5-a-day.
So far, we’re all loving the journey we’re on. It’s been great sharing the food with family and friends and seeing their positive reaction. Next week the cottage full of vegans will put us to the test. We’re looking forward to surprising them with watercress!