I am a big fan of salads in winter, when the dark green leafy veggies are at their juiciest. In this Watercress Salad, I’ve paired the watercress together with puha (another wild naturalised leafy green), radish, fresh juicy winter orange, maple coated walnuts and my reduced balsamic, which is a total must for winter greens salads. The reduced balsamic coats instead of destroying the greens like straight balsamic tends to do, and all it needs is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and you have a total taste bomb.
Watercress loves waterways, its hollow stems keeping it afloat as the peppery leaves reach for the sky and roots burrow down into the earth to keep it from washing away. In salads I chop the stems up quite finely as they can be a bit stringy and not so nice to chomp through (they are super juicy and tasty so don’t just use the leaves), then more roughly chopped for the leaves as they are more delicate. Did you know watercress (especially wild grown) is a nutrient bomb containing over 50 vital minerals and vitamins gram for gram it contains more vitamin C than oranges, more vitamin E than broccoli, more calcium than milk and more folate than bananas, it’s basically a superfood.
Puha is an extremely common weed in New Zealand, found all over the place, in all the seasons. The younger plants are mildly bitter and quite succulent; older plants get a bit bitter and tough. I like to eat them when young in salads like this one. Puha is another super green with an impressive four times more antioxidant compounds than red wine and twelve times more antioxidants than black tea, is rich in essential fatty acids, minerals and nutrients niacin, zinc, manganese, copper, iron, calcium and protein, carotenoids, fibre and as well as high levels of vitamins A, B1, B2, C and K.
For this salad there are a couple of ingredients to prepare in advance. Once you’ve made the balsamic reduction you’ll have it on hand for many salads to come and trust me once you’ve made these maple walnuts you’ll be picking at them for days, so I suggest making a double batch. I dislike the taste raw onions leave in my mouth all day after eating them so I always marinate them in the salad bowl before adding the rest of the salad on top as I go. This technique ‘cooks’ the onions in the acidity and salt and really does make a difference so don’t skip it. If you are not keen on fruit in salads just used the juice of the orange in the dressing.
Plant-based | Gluten-free
Plant-based | Gluten-free
Gather your ingredients and add the following to a pot:
1 L balsamic vinegar
150g unrefined cane sugar
1 stalk rosemary