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Cooking with watercress

More than just a bit on the side

The ancient Greeks grew it, the Romans revered it and now in this country, where it flourishes in chalk streams, it is enjoying a renaissance as a superfood.

Carole Elgueta

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Carole Elgueta

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More than just a bit on the side

Cod and watercress parcels

Cod and watercress parcels

Serves 2. Cod is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and B6 and niacin – all extremely good for assisting the heart and blood vessels. This, added to the phytochemicals in the watercress, mean you get a tasty meal that’s incredibly good for your heart. By serving on a bed of brown rice this meal provides plenty of energy, to boot. Serves: two

Ingredients

250g cod (or other sustainable white fish)
85g (1 bag) watercress
2 cloves of garlic,peeled
1 green chilli, chopped
2 slices of Parma ham
2 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g brown rice
1 small red onion, diced 50g black olives, stoned
chopped Black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan), Gas mark 4. Take the cod and pile a quarter of the watercress along the top of the two fillets (reserving the rest for later) along with the chilli and garlic. Carefully wrap the cod and its topping in the slices of Parma ham. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cod is cooked through. Bring 360ml of water to the boil. Add the brown rice, stir and leave to simmer for 15- 20 mins until the water is all absorbed and the rice cooked. Add the onion, tomato and olives to a hot pan and lightly sauté. Once the rice is cooked, add to the pan and mix together, adding pepper to taste. Spoon some of the brown rice mixture onto a plate. Place the remaining watercress on top. Remove the cod from the oven and place on top.

Cream of watercress soup

Serves 6

This is the classic French version, made with a roux and enriched with egg yolks. However, if you’re watching the calories, skip the egg yolks and it still tastes delicious.

Ingredients

40g (1 1/2 oz) butter
2 onions
350g (12oz) watercress, plus a few sprigs to garnish
40g (11/2oz) plain flour
1.2litres (2 pints) chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
150ml (1/4) pint double cream

Method

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onions and cook until soft, but not browned. Add the watercress and cook for five minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken stock, bring to the boil and cook for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sieve or blitz in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan. Beat the egg yolks and cream together, then gradually add 300ml (1/2) pint of the hot soup, stirring constantly. Return to the pan and cook for one to two minutes; do not boil. Serve garnished with watercress.

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