Autumn and winter are around the corner with all the magic and mystery those seasons bring; the wonder of harvest, the magic of Halloween, the sparkle of Guy Fawkes and of course the joy of Christmas. But with them come colder days and a yearning for hearty, warming dishes. The Watercress Company has collaborated with Dorset Chef, Suze Morrison to come up with four indulgent recipes for one stop pots that are simply perfect for sharing on cosy evenings in. 

Naturally, peppery, fiery watercress features in each, but it’s not just good for adding to the warmth of the dish, it’s also good for your health, helping to support the immune system, which is more important than ever at this time of year.

Watercress is one of the healthiest veg and contains over 50 vital vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram it contains more calcium than milk, more folate than a banana, more vitamin E than broccoli and crucially, for a healthy immune system, more Vitamin C than an orange. Unlike animals, we cannot produce our own Vitamin C, we therefore need to consume it in regularly sufficient amounts to ensure we get enough. We’re also unable to store Vitamin C, so consume any more than we need, and we excrete it. An 80g portion of watercress provides 83% of the Recommended Daily Amount.

Importantly for vegetarians and vegans, watercress is 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.

The wonders continue; 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. 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. Finally, unusually for a plant, watercress has a full complement of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to help regulate the immune function and to build muscle. The best sources of essential amino acids are generally animal proteins like meat, eggs, and poultry - another reason why watercress is a must-have for vegans and vegetarians.

So, what are you waiting for? Tuck into these fantastically tasty recipes and feel the good you’re doing!

BEEF & WATERCRESS BOURGUIGNON

Serves 6

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook time 3 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Rapeseed Oil

1kg Braising Steak, with some fat or Chuck/ Skirt, Shin, cut into large pieces.

2 Onions, finely sliced

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

200g Button Mushrooms, whole

50g Watercress

1 tbsp Plain flour

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

500ml Red wine

500ml Rich Beef Stock

4 Bay Leaves

10g Parsley Stalks

3 Sprigs Thyme

Salt & Black Pepper

Method:

  1. This is best made the day before you want to serve to allow the flavours to develop. Preheat oven 115C.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over a medium high heat. Mix the flour with a little salt and use to coat the beef.
  3. Brown the beef in 4 batches on all sides, waiting until the meat releases itself from the pan with ease. Do not overcrowd the pan or else the meat with steam instead of caramelising.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate to rest.
  5. In the same pan, add the onions and a small splash of water. Scrape the base of the pan to release the crusted pieces and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and sweat the onions for 10 minutes or until soft, translucent and sweet.
  6. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes more or until the mushrooms begin to caramelise and lose their moisture.
  7. Add the tomato puree and cook out, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan and pour in the wine. Increase the heat and bubble for 3-4 minutes or until reduced by 1/3.
  8. Add the stock and tie the bay, parsley & thyme in a bundle with string. Add this to the pan along with the watercress.
  9. Cover with a lid and pop into the oven for 3 hours.
  10. Check the meat, it should easy yield to a blunt fork. When done, remove and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  11. The next day, bring the stew back to room temperature before heating in a low oven until hot through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as the flavours will be more mature by now.
  12. Serve with pillows of mash and green vegetables.

 

For a truly autumnal twist on classic mash, why not give this fabulous interpretation a try?

POTATO, PARSNIP & WATERCRESS MASH

 

Serves 6

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1kg Fluffy Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

200g Parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

1 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard

100g Butter

60g Whipping Cream

30g Watercress, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Add the potatoes to a large pan of cold salted water.
  2. Bring to the boil and boil until just tender (about 12-15 minutes)
  3. Drain and arrange on a wire rack to steam for 10 minutes, this will remove excess moisture and prevent gloopy mash.
  4. Meanwhile add the butter, cream and mustard to the warm pan and allow to melt.
  5. Add the potatoes and parsnips and mash with a fork. Swap to a handblender and blend until smooth.
  6. Fold in the watercress, taste and add salt if needed.
  7. Serve straight away.

 

CHEESEBOARD CAULIFLOWER MAC N CHEESE WITH WATERCRESS

 

Serves 6

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 40 minutes

Ingredients:

400g Macaroni

½ Cauliflower, florets

90g Unsalted Butter

90g Plain Flour

1 tsp Paprika

2 tsp Mustard Powder

1/8 tsp White Pepper

750ml Whole Milk

250ml Whipping Cream

2 tbsp Brandy

500g Mixed Cheese (reserving 150g for topping)

50g Watercress, finely chopped

Salt to season (if your cheese is not too salty)

Method

  1. Butter an ovenproof dish and set aside. Preheat oven 180C.
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add ½ tsp salt. Cook the pasta for 4 minutes, add the cauliflower and continue cooking until both are very much al dente.
  3. Drain and reserve a ladle of cooking water.
  4. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the flour, paprika, mustard powder and white pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour.
  5. Mix the milk, cream and brandy in a jug.
  6. Take the butter mixture off the heat and very gradually whisk in the milk mixture to form a smooth, silky roux. Return the pan to the heat and continue whisking until it bubbles vigorously.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 350g Cheese until melted. Stir in the watercress.
  8. Taste, adjust the seasoning if needed bearing in mind that the cheese will be salty.
  9. Tumble the mixture into your prepared dish and sprinkle with the remaining 150g Cheese. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden & bubbling. Serve immediately.

 

CHICKEN, PROSECCO & WATERCRESS POTATO TOPPED PIE

 

Serves 6

Prep Time 60 minutes (plus overnight chilling)

Cook Time 90 minutes

Ingredients:

25g Plain Flour

8 Skinless, boneless Chicken Thighs cut into chunks

Olive Oil

12 Spring Onions, finely sliced

1 Clove Garlic, minced

½ tsp Thyme Leaves, finely chopped

200g Prosecco

300g Chicken Stock

300g Full Fat Greek Yogurt

200g Frozen Peas, defrosted

200g Green Beans/ Sugar Snaps

200g Asparagus

50g Watercress, finely chopped

1 tbsp Parsley, chopped

1 Lemon, zest

Salt & Black pepper

1kg Small Potatoes, thinly sliced

40g Butter, melted

6 Thyme Sprigs, leaves picked

Method

1.       Heat a large sauté pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the spring onions and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Cook slowly for 20-30 minutes until soft, sweet and caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2.       Mix the flour with some salt and pepper and use to coat the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken in batches, adding more oil as necessary. Remove and transfer to a bowl.

3.       Add the Prosecco, stirring to deglaze the pan and bubble until most of the mixture has gone. Add the thyme, chicken stock and yogurt and simmer on a reduced heat.

4.       Add the Spring Onions and chicken back to the pan and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, add the peas, sugar peas, beans and asparagus and cook 10 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the watercress, parsley and lemon zest and taste the mixture, season to your taste with salt & black pepper.

5.       Spoon into your pie dish, cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavours develop.

6.       The next day preheat oven 180C. Blanch the potato slices in boiling water for 5 minutes until al dente. Drain and allow to steam dry for 10 minutes.

7.       Arrange the potatoes on top of the chicken mixture I concentric circles. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with thyme.

8.       Bake for 30-40 minutes or until hot through and crisp on top. Stand for 10 minutes before serving with extra watercress.

 

SOUTHERN INDIAN PUMPKIN, CAULIFLOWER & WATERCRESS CURRY

 

Serves 4

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tbsp Coconut Oil

1 tbsp Mustard Seeds

12 Curry Leaves

2 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 Green Chilli, finely chopped

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Thumb Ginger, minced

½ Cauliflower, florets

1 Small Pumpkin, squash, cut into 2cm cubes

1 tsp Turmeric, ground

1 tsp Mild Curry Powder

400ml Can Coconut Milk, full fat

200g Peas

50g Watercress

20g Coriander

10g Mint

Lemon Wedges, Toasted Coconut & Rice to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they sizzle.
  2. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Add in the garlic, chilli and ginger and mix until fragrant. Tumble in the pumpkin and cauliflower along with the spices and stir to coat.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes or until toasted then pour in the coconut milk.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  5. Blend the watercress, coriander and mint with a splash of water to form a paste.
  6. Stir this paste through the curry along with the peas. Cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce is rich, thick and fragrant.
  7. Taste and add salt and lemon juice to season.
  8. Serve topped with toasted coconut and extra herbs with lemon wedges on the side

 

Keep the cold at bay this winter and fill up on these hearty warming dishes packed full of goodness and healthy ingredients including peppery superhero, watercress.  For more recipe inspiration and to discover all the health benefits of watercress (yes there are more!), 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.ukpr/warming-ways-with-watercress