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Watercress Salad

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.

Watercress Salad

~New Recipe~

Plant-based | Gluten-free

Serves 4


Plant-based | Gluten-free

Makes 600ml

Gather your ingredients and add the following to a pot:

1 L balsamic vinegar

150g unrefined cane sugar

1 stalk rosemary

½ red onion, diced (optional)

Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Stir mixture frequently and continue simmering until the liquid is reduced by half. Leave too cool completely, remove the rosemary stem, before decanting into a jar or bottle.


Plant-based | Gluten-free

Makes ½ cup

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Measure the walnuts onto an oven tray lined with baking paper:

1/2 c walnuts

Toast in the oven for 10 minutes then drizzle and sprinkle over:

1 tsp cinnamon powder

2 T maple syrup

½ tsp salt

Stir through and return to the oven for two minutes. Remove and cool.


Plant-based | Gluten-free

Serves 4

Gather your ingredients and prepare the following into a large salad bowl:

½ red onion, finely sliced

3 Tablespoons balsamic reduction

1 tsp salt

Scrunch together with your hands and leave to sit while you prepare the other ingredients, adding them to the bowl as you go, not mixing in between:

1 orange, peeled and sliced into segments

4 c watercress, finely chopped stems and roughly chopped leaves

1 c young puha leaves, roughly chopped

4 radish, finely sliced

1 c ruruhau, mizuna, alfalfa or broccoli sprouts (optional)

Drizzle with:

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add the walnuts and toss together well and serve.

As always I'd love to hear your feedback, enjoy!

Anna x


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