Healey Newson from Hampshire has continued his experiments with watercress and in particular exploring how it can support his Slimming World eating plan. Having successfully lost over 7 stones, Healey is keen to keep the pounds off and so continues to incorporate watercress into the recipes as it contains virtually zero calories and adds masses of flavour.
Here’s his latest favourite dish - filling and tasty:
Easy Chicken & Watercress Risotto
Preparation time: less than 15 mins
Cooking time: 10 to 30 mins
Serves 2-4 and is Syn Free on Slimming World Plan!
· Fry Lite Spray
· 1 onion, chopped
· 250g/9oz arborio risotto rice or ordinary rice will do
· 1 pints chicken stock cube, made with 1 Knorr stock pot
· 250g/9oz raw chicken, skin removed, cut into small pieces
· 200g/7oz frozen peas (optional)
· 200g mushrooms (sliced)
· 200g Watercress
· Mixed herbs
1. Heat the Fry Lite in a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and chicken and fry for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the chicken is cooked through. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes.
2. Add the risotto rice and peas to the pan and then add all of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring well. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is almost tender and the risotto is creamy in appearance. Add the watercress at the very end and cook for a minute or so.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and serve.
This is one of my Slimming World staple meals as it is easy to cook and is Syn Free, (Syns is shorthand for synergy – Slimming World believes it's the synergy between the three components of the plan, ie. Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns, that makes Food Optimisingly effective at enabling weight loss). Simplistically, a Syn is a naughty treat or something that needs to be restricted, so a lot of desserts for example, carry Syns.
I always need to have extra vegetables with a dish to stick to the Slimming World plan and keep the weight off, so I’ll regularly add a bowl of fresh Watercress now, as a side dish.
I love this as a winter warmer and it has the added bonus of being healthily filling.
I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do.
Brought by the Moors and Saracens after they settled in Europe, rice was first introduced in Italy, precisely in Sicily, as early as the 13th century. From there, it spread to the Naples area and later, due to the connections between the Aragona of Naples and the Sforza of Milan, to the Po Valley in northern Italy, where it found the ideal conditions to be grown: flat lands, abundant water and humidity. Still today, the Po Valley is one of the largest rice producing areas in Europe and rice is eaten extensively throughout northern Italy. It is here that the risotto originated with ‘riso’ meaning rice.
One of the most famous risottos is no doubt risotto alla Milanese. The first recipes mentioning the dish appear in cookbooks starting in the 1800s.
Here is delicious Magazine’s version of Risotto alla Milanese which is renown for its yellow colour derived from saffron.
The myth behind risotto and its yellow colour
Valerius, a young apprentice, is believed to be the creator of risotto. In 1574, he was put in charge of making the stained-glass window that was to adorn the Cathedral Duomo Di Milano. While he worked, many of the townspeople made fun of him, giving credit to the herb saffron for the beautiful colors showcased in his artwork. As a result, Valerius became angry and devised a plan of retaliation. During his master's wedding, he added an excessive amount of saffron to the rice being served as the main dish. He hoped his action would ruin the festivities, but instead the rice received great reviews, launching risotto into culinary fame.
Mushroom & Watercress Risotto
Calories: 352 Preparation: 15 mins Cooking: 15 mins Serves: 4
85g bag watercress, chopped
700ml vegetable stock
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
250g pack large flat chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
160g baby chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 sprigs fresh thyme
200g risotto rice
150ml white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g Welsh goat’s cheese
Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the stock to simmer.
Heat the butter and oil in a casserole dish over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the mushrooms and thyme and mix well.
Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute until the grains are well coated. Pour in the wine and stir until completely absorbed. Add 1 ladle of the hot stock and simmer until completely absorbed. Continue to add the stock as before, for a further 18-20 minutes until the rice is al dente.
Stir in most of the watercress (save some to garnish) and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, cover, and rest for 2 minutes, then remove the thyme sprigs.
To serve, spoon into warmed bowls, scatter with the goat’s cheese and garnish with the remaining watercress.
Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 4g Carbohydrate: 41g Protein: 11g Fibre: 2g Salt: 1.35g