With the holiday season nearly upon us, thoughts turn to healthy salads and relaxing days in the sun. The time was when salads were decidedly dull, but these days the ingredients are as exotic and exciting as the destinations we travel to.
Fancy trying a Moroccan Couscous Salad with Feta Parcels, Watercress and Harissa Yoghurt?
Watercress is the perfect basis for a salad providing a delicious peppery undercurrent that blends seamlessly with other flavours, while offering a healthy burst of nutrition.
Watercress is one of the original superfoods and contains over 50 essential vitamins and minerals; in fact, gram for gram watercress contains more Vitamin C than oranges, more folate than banana, more Vitamin E than broccoli and more calcium than milk.
Scientific research has also demonstrated that there is a powerful link between watercress and cancer prevention and because of the high levels of natural nitrates in watercress there is evidence suggesting it also has a protective effect against high blood pressure*.
More scientific studies into this and other areas are currently underway which look set to reaffirm watercress’ status as a wonder food with a particularly powerful nutritious punch.
Moroccan Couscous Salad with Feta Parcels, Watercress and Harissa Yoghurt:
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 2 x 85g bags watercress
- 150g couscous
- 300g feta
- 2 egg yolks
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- ½ a bunch coriander, chopped
- ½ a bunch of mint, chopped
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 150g Chantenay carrots, washed
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 sheets filo pastry
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 75ml Greek yoghurt
- 40g pistachios (no shells)
- 1 pink grapefruit
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. While you bring 150ml of water to the boil place the couscous in a bowl and add a good pinch of salt. Pour over the boiling water then cover tightly with clingfilm. Leave for five minutes before removing the clingfilm and fluffing up with a fork. Mix in the coriander and mint along with the lemon juice and chilli flakes. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Set aside.
- Quarter the washed carrots lengthways and place into a bowl along with the sliced red onion. Add in a good pinch of salt along with the white wine vinegar and set aside to pickle.
- Take the filo pastry and lay the sheets out flat on a work surface. Cut into twelve equal squares and brush with egg yolk. Divide the feta cheese equally between each, placing as centrally as possible, then take the corners of each square of pastry and bring inwards, gently pinching together to create small parcels. Place the parcels onto a lined baking tray and place the tray into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden and crisp.
- Tip the pistachios onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for five minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then crush roughly with a pestle and mortar or the back of a knife. Mix the harissa with the yoghurt and add salt to taste. Peel and slice the pink grapefruit and keep ready for serving.
- To serve, divide the watercress between four plates. Drain the pickled carrots and arrange on top. Pile on the couscous then add in the grapefruit slices. Drizzle the lot with the harissa yoghurt and sprinkle with pistachios before serving with the warm feta parcels.
Lowering Blood Pressure:
Like beetroot, watercress contains natural nitrates, but at far higher levels. When chewed these nitrates are converted to nitrites by specialist bacteria found naturally at the back of our mouth, and, once in our stomachs into a gaseous form of nitrogen which enters our bloodstream. The effect on our cardiovascular system is to create elasticity in the blood vessels allowing for reduced blood pressure
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 17 healthy adults nitrate supplements equivalent to the amount in 150 to 250 grams of nitrate-dense vegetables. This resulted in a reduction in diastolic blood pressure by an average of 3.7 mm Hg in just 3 days. This suggests watercress and nitrate rich vegetables could have a protective effect against high blood pressure.
These recipes were created by development chef Keri Astill-Frew. Keri has worked in top restaurants across the UK including a Michelin star hotel in Lancashire and a variety of fine dining restaurants and gastro-pubs in Dorset and Sussex. She is passionate about watercress, both as an ingredient and for its fantastic health benefits and is devoted to developing new and delicious ways for you to incorporate more of it into your diet. For more information and many more recipes please visit The Watercress Company or Watercress.
Recipe Photography Credits: Lara Jane Thorpe
You might also like: