If I was asked what my number one tip for a new vegetarian would be, I wouldn’t hesitate to advocate for the inclusion of large amounts of green leafy vegetables, especially for women. My favourite cooked green vegetable is kale (how fashionable!), my favourite raw green leafy source is watercress. I don’t know if it’s appeared on the Daily Mail’s ‘superfood’ list yet, but it has more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than cow’s milk. It’s strong, peppery flavour means you can get interesting tasting salads without having to load up with dressings.
The British watercress season is just starting and if you can get an independent brand of watercress like John Hurd’s, I urge you to try it. It’s more expensive but I think the increase in flavour makes it worth it.
I’ve put it in an easy pesto here. It would work with hot pasta or on a pasta salad. It tastes so good you won’t worry about how good it is for you!
1/2 large, ripe avocado
1/2 pack of basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Add the ingredients to a food processor and process on pulse until they form a smooth paste.
Remove from the bowl and season carefully (it won’t take much).
Serve over hot pasta.
I love spring rolls, but they’re not the healthiest of options as they’re deep fried. Summer rolls, hold no such worries and, with a supply of rice paper wrappers (available at bigger supermarkets) are easy to make at home.
Actually, making them at home makes you realise how mean the filling has to be if you want the rolls to close properly. And you have to have pretty good origami skills to make them. This has tended to put me off making them. Then I found a picture of summer rolls that were open at one end. They looked a lot easier to make (just as sushi hand rolls take a lot of the terror out of making sushi at home) and were just so fresh and vibrant that I had to give them a go.
The fillings for the rolls are what I had in the fridge at the time, so use the recipe as a guideline rather than a fixed standard. If you didn’t have mango for the dipping sauce, a ripe peach or nectarine would do just as well. If you don’t want to make rolls, the sauce would be great with a plate of crudités.
For the dipping sauce:
1/2 mango, finely chopped
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbps vinegar (wine or cider)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
For the rolls
4 rice paper spring/summer roll wrappers
1/2 medium carrot, chopped into matchsticks
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
Handful of watercress
5cm piece of cucumber, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
6 mangetout, sliced
1 stem of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Put all the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Half-fill a wide bowl or deep plate with hand-hot water.
Dip a rice paper wrapper in the water and hold for a few seconds until it starts to go a little flexible.
Remove the wrapper from the water and put on a clean surface.
Place a few of each of the vegetables in the centre.
Fold over three sides of the wrapper leaving one side open.
Repeat for each of the other wrappers.
Serve alongside the dipping sauce.
Serves 2 as a starter (but not at an elegant meal!)
I haven’t quite got to my second anniversary as a vegetarian. There are times when I still get the odd craving for meat. I’m quite specific about it too, it has to be Marks & Spencers tinned stewing steak. I have worked out that when I get this craving it’s because I’m missing iron in my diet. The best way to get iron in your diet is through green leafy vegetables. As far as I’m concerned you can’t eat too many of them. Another way of increasing your intake of iron is to eat something containing vitamin C at the same time.
Now watercress contains good quantities of iron and vitamin C, but I’ve decided to help it along in this salad with little segments of lemon.If you’ve never segmented a citrus fruit, this video will show you how. As watercress can stand up to some strong flavours, I’ve added sundried tomatoes, capers to the lemon and then some avocado for creamy contrast.
This is a great little salad. The lemon segments don’t overpower it, you just get little bursts of sourness against the iron pepperiness of the watercress and the creaminess of the avocado. If you didn’t want to use watercress then rocket or even flat leaf parsley would work well in this as well.
1 lemon, one half juiced, one half segmented
1/4 tsp mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 pack watercress (about 100g)
6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp capers
1 avocado, stoned, peeled and chopped
Make up the dressing with the juice of half the lemon, the mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Add the watercress, sundried tomatoes, capers, avocado and lemon segments to a large bowl. Toss them in the dressing.
Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 2 as a light lunch or a side salad
This recipe was inspired by Nigel Slater’s Mushroom Medley. I’ve changed it to what I had available in the fridge and store cupboard. I love the watercress in this, another time I might try spinach instead or some shredded spring greens added five minutes before the end of cooking.
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500ml vegetable stock
handful fresh parsley chopped
small bunch watercress, lightly chopped
Heat the mushrooms, mushroom ketchup, rosemary and garlic in a small frying pan until the mushrooms have cooked and shrunk slightly.
Add the quinoa and the stock.
Simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the little spirals are unwinding.
Stir in the parsley and watercress and serve while the watercress is still wilting.
This has the flavour of a mushroom risotto but without the stirring.
Serves 2 as lunch or supper.
Slimming World Syns: 0 on green