According to the Vegan Society, vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population by 2025, and flexitarians just under half of all UK consumers. According to Mintel, retail sales of vegetarian and vegan products are expected to be worth £658m by the end of 2021 as retailers develop their own range of plant based foods and more and more new brands are launched.

But why buy these ready meals, many of which are surprisingly high in sugar and salt, when it’s easy to make your own inspiring dishes using fresh ingredients that are so much better for you? The Watercress Company has collaborated with Dorset based chef, Suze Morrison to develop six new mouth-watering vegan and vegetarian recipes in time for World Vegetarian Day on 1 October and World Vegan Day on 1 November.

Mother Nature is a wonderful thing and generally provides for our bodies everything we need to be healthy. When opting for a veggie or vegan diet it’s important to compensate for the nutrients typically obtained from meat. Iron is a prime example and iron is why watercress should play a key role in any vegan or vegetarian’s life. Not only does watercress contain over 50 vital vitamins and minerals, in fact gram for gram it boasts more calcium than milk, more Vitamin C than an orange, more folate than a banana and more Vitamin E than broccoli, but crucially for vegetarians and vegans, it’s also high in Vitamin A and rich in iron. For plant iron to be absorbed, vitamins C and A are required to convert it into a more easily absorbable form such as haem iron as found in meat. Not all veg that contain iron have as high levels of Vitamins A and C as watercress, and so the iron is not as readily available in some green veg as in watercress.

Watercress is also a rich source of fibre and of crucial antioxidants, both vital for gut health, which in turn is linked to immunity and mental health. Finally, the distinctive peppery kick that makes watercress so special is down to the compound PEITC, which has been scientifically proven to help prevent certain cancers, and to aid post-exercise recovery by preventing DNA damage.

When all’s said and done, watercress is a great addition to any diet but for vegans and vegetarians it’s key. Give these fabulous new recipes a whirl and you won’t need much coaxing to add a handful of watercress to every meal.

 

WATERCRESS, COURGETTE & SPRING ONION FRITTERS WITH DILL YOGURT DIP (Vegetarian)

Serves: 4 as a starter/ snack

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes soaking

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

4 Medium Courgettes, grated

6 Spring Onions, finely sliced

20g Watercress, finely chopped

2tbsp Mint leaves, chopped

2 tbsp Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp Dill, chopped

150g Feta, crumbled

200g Plain Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

2 Large Eggs, room temperature, beaten

60-80ml Olive Oil for frying

Dill Yogurt Dip

200g Full Fat Greek Yogurt

2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Clove Garlic, minced

20g Dill, finely chopped

½ tsp Salt

Method:

  1. Begin with the dip, mix all the ingredients together and set aside in the fridge.
  2. For the fritters, add the courgette to a colander, sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and set aside in a sink for 30 minutes.
  3. Gather the courgette in your hands and squeeze out all the excess moisture, you are aiming to get as much out as possible.
  4. Add to a large bowl with the onions, watercress and herbs, mix well before adding the feta.
  5. Add the eggs and fold the mixture together, trying to maintain a little integrity in the feta pieces. Finally sift over the flour and baking powder and mix until homogenous.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan until hot. Add tablespoons of the mix and cook for 2 minutes each side. As they cook, remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve hot with the dip

 

WATERCRESS & FENNEL SEED CANNELLONI (Vegetarian)

 

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time 90 minutes

Ingredients:

Tomato Fennel Seed Sauce

2 Cans Tomatoes, chopped

3 tbsp Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, mince

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 tsp Fennel Seeds

½ tsp Dried Oregano

½ tsp Dried Thyme

½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper

1 tsp Salt

Small Pinch Sugar

Watercress Ricotta Cannelloni

16 Cannelloni Tubes

500g Ricotta Cheese

50g Parmesan, grated

50g Watercress, finely chopped

1 Clove Garlic, minced

1 Large egg

½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper

½ tsp Dried Oregano

½ tsp Dried Parsley

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt to taste (check of your parmesan is salty)

Parmesan, Toasted Seeds & Chopped Watercress to top

Method:

  1. Begin with the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat for 10-15 minutes until sweet and translucent. You may need to turn the heat down and add a small splash of water if it looks as though they might catch.
  2. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more before adding the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until sweet and reduced a little.
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Meanwhile preheat oven 180C. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and beat until well combined.
  5. Fill a piping bag and pipe into the shells (trust me, this is so much easier than spooning in the filling)
  6. Cover the base of your oven dish with a layer of tomato sauce. Lay the cannelloni on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Grate over plenty of parmesan and bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes or until golden, bubbling and cooked through.
  7. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before sprinkling with seeds and chopped watercress to serve.

 

WATERCRESS, PEA & SPRING ONION LINGUINE (Vegetarian but optionally vegan if the parmesan is left out)

 

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

200g Dried Linguine

130g Frozen Peas, defrosted

50g Watercress

50g Parmesan

1 Clove Garlic

20g Basil

1 Lime, juice and zest

60ml Olive Oil

6 Spring Onions, finely chopped

Toasted Seeds to sprinkle

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions until al dente (usually a minute or two less than suggested) drain and reserve a ladle of cooking water.
  2. For the pesto, add all the ingredients, aside from the spring onions to a food processor and pulse until combined, you may need a touch more oil.
  3. Fold through the pasta, along with the spring onions and enough cooking water to make a silky coating. Serve immediately with some toasted seeds to top.

 

NASI GORENG INSPIRED VEGAN WATERCRESS RICE BOWL WITH CHARRED LIME (Vegan)

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

240g Cooked Basmati Rice, cold

400g Firm Tofu, grated on a box grater

1 Red chilli, finely sliced

6 Spring Onions, finely sliced

A large handful of Green Beans, sliced

1 Red Pepper, sliced

1 Bunch Radish, thinly sliced

200g Tender stem Broccoli

50g Watercress

2tbsp Rapeseed Oil

¼ tsp Turmeric, ground

2 tbsp Kecap Manis or 2 tbsp Soy + 1tsp Coconut sugar

2 tbsp Soy

1 tsp Tomato Puree

1 Lime

2 tbsp Sambal Oelek/ Chilli Paste

Coriander, Crispy shallots and Lime wedges to serve

Method:

  1. Begin with the lime. Cut into 6 wedges and heat the grill to high. Grill the wedges until charred and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok, fry the tofu until the moisture has evaporated and it becomes crisp. Scoop out, leaving the oil and set aside.
  3. Fry the spring onions for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add the chili and turmeric and fry 2 minutes more.
  4. Add in the pepper, beans, radish and broccoli and cook for 2 minutes more.
  5. Now add the rice and tofu to the pan. Break up any large clumps and combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You need to make sure the rice is piping hot all the way through.
  6. Add the kecap manis, soy, tomato puree and the juice of two of the charred lime wedges. Stir though before adding the sambal oelek. Stir through the watercress
  7. Divide the hot rice between 4 dishes, top with coriander, crispy shallots and extra charred limes.

 

PAD THAI INSPIRED VEGAN NOODLE BOWL WITH EDAMAME (Vegan)

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

300g Flat Rice Noodles, soaked in cold water for 2 hours

2 tbsp Rapeseed oil

10g Chives, finely chopped

6 Spring Onions, finely chopped

3 Carrots, shaved into ribbons

200g Frozen Edamame, defrosted

100g Beansprouts

2 Courgettes, cut into ribbons

1 tbsp Minced Ginger

2 tsp Minced Garlic

Large Handful Mangetout

2 tsp Smoked Chilli Powder

3 tbsp Tamarind Paste (brands vary in acidity so taste and adjust accordingly)

3 tbsp Soy Sauce

50ml Chilli Oil

2 tbsp Maple Syrup

50g Watercress

50g Crushed Toasted Peanuts, Lime & Coriander to serve

Method:

  1. Drain the noodles and rinse thoroughly, set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok over a high heat. Add the spring onions and cook 1-2 minutes or until softened and beginning to crisp.
  3. Meanwhile mix the tamarind, smoked chilli powder, soy, chilli oil and maple in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the beansprouts, carrots, mangetout, courgettes, ginger, garlic and edamame to the pan and fry, agitating with a spatula constantly.
  5. Mix in the edamame and move the vegetables to the side of the wok. Pour in the tamarind mixture and cook for 30 seconds before mixing through the cooked noodles.
  6. Add the chives and watercress and mix through to heat.
  7. Taste, it should be sweet, sour and firey with a chilli kick.
  8. Serve straight away garnished with peanuts and coriander and lime wedges to serve.

 

GRILLED VEGETABLE SKEWERS, WATERCRESS SWEETCORN SALSA (Vegan)

Serves: 4 as part of a meal

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

700g Potatoes, cut into 4cm chunks and par boiled

2 Red Onions, cut into quarters

A Bunch of Radish

3 Courgettes, cut into 3cm chunks

Baby Tomatoes

Glaze:

2 tbsp White Miso

3 tbsp Sesame Oil

1 tbsp Maple Syrup

1 tbsp Soy

1 tsp Hot Sauce

Watercress Sweetcorn Salsa:

350g Tinned/ Frozen Sweetcorn, defrosted

1 Red Onion, finely chopped

50g Watercress, finely chopped

20g Coriander, finely chopped

1 Red Chilli, finely chopped

1 Lime, zest and Juice

50g Raw Peanuts, toasted at 160C for 15 minutes

1 tbsp Soy

1 tbsp Sesame Oil

Method:

  1. Mix all the glaze ingredients together in a bowl. Divide the vegetables between 4 skewers and brush with the glaze.
  2. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for the salsa together and set aside for the flavours to infuse.
  3. Heat the BBQ or a grill to high. Grill the skewers, turning every couple of minutes until beginning to char and the vegetables are forgiving, you don’t want them too soft so keep an eye on them.
  4. Serve hot with the salsa and flatbreads for making the ultimate vegan sandwich!

 

Embrace a meat free existence and revel in fresh ingredients like watercress and just feel it doing good. To discover more about the health benefits of watercress, visit www.thewatercresscompany.com or for more recipe inspiration go to www.watercress.co.uk or https://www.facebook.com/LoveWatercress/ or https://www.instagram.com/lovewatercress/

For full nutritional analysis of the recipes, visit: www.watercress.co.uk/pr/embrace-meat-free