Our veggie garden has been springing into action with the change of season. As the temperature heats up and the days start to lengthen, we are being rewarded with daily bounty of fire-truck red cherry tomatoes, crisp baby cos and mesclun lettuce, peppery rocket, climbing english spinach and well-mannered, straight-backed spring onions. I never tire of the seemingly endless salad combinations available, and how accommodating they are to either take centre stage or be a great supporting actress to the hero protein of the meal.
I admit to finding salads a great go-to for eating almost every day, and a really satisfying way to increase the intake of veggies towards the five recommended servings per day. Why not shoot for the stars as I like to do, and aim for upping to six to eight daily servings: see how quickly this way the skin glows while the body buzzes with energy! I find salads particularly good to include when having friends over, as they can be such a simple side dish to have made earlier with the dressing patiently waiting to the side. Served in big white bowls or jumbled together on large platters, they punch out with such casual chic vibrant health, abundance and generosity!
This salad combo of avocado, potato and watercress has been a long-time favourite in our home. The english spinach has been freshly picked from our garden, and was the starting building block for this salad’s creation to serve as part of a Sunday lunch. Yet in my eyes it is the watercress that is the true star player. It is an amazing nutrient powerhouse, full to the brim with essential vitamins and minerals to support our health in many ways. It is rich in Vitamin A, an antioxidant that destroys free radicals; Vitamin C (four more times than an orange!) that also works to care for skin cells, fight infection and maintain healthy blood vessels; Vitamin E, which is important for healthy body cells, skin, muscles and nerves; and Vitamin K, an essential nutrient for bone health. Interestingly it’s also abundant in two carotenoid nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, which studies show assist in protecting vision and supporting the cardiovascular system. Add to that the new evidence that eating watercress can protect DNA against damage that could trigger cancer, and you start to see some pretty formidable statistics, don’t you think?
Comparing gram to gram, watercress contains more Vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more folate than bananas and more iron than spinach. If you still need more convincing, even the ancient Greeks believed that it could brighten their intellect and increase their productivity – and I am all for added spark to share!
Avocado, Potato and Watercress Salad
750g baby potatoes, scrubbed
2 large avocadoes
100g baby spinach
1 bunch watercress
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
½ clove garlic, finely sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, and add baby potatoes until cooked and tender. Drain
- While potatoes are cooking, make dressing by adding lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, salt and pepper to a small glass jar. Shake well
- Slice warm potatoes in half and add dressing immediately, so the exposed middles can enjoy being “dressed-up”.
- Add dressed potatoes to a large salad bowl, along with the baby spinach and two-thirds of the watercress
- Peel and thickly slice the avocadoes, and add to the bowl
- Gently toss the salad together, randomly scattering remaining watercress over the top to complete
Tip: This salad is a wonderful accompaniment to any BBQ or sparkly feature protein. Nice additions are toasted pine nuts, crisp shards of prosciutto or goat’s feta, although it holds its own extremely well in its simple form above!