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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Recipes: A Simple Superfood Salad

Beetroot and Watercress Make a Great Salad
The peppery, slightly bitter taste of watercress goes very well with the strong, earthy flavours of raw beetroot (beet).  Together, simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and lemon juice, they make a fantastic side dish and a great base for more complex salads. As well as being incredibly healthy and tasting divine this dish, with its combination of greens and purples, looks great on the table.

Beetroot and watercress are both low calorie, nutrient dense foods. Beetroot is rich is vitamin C and folate. It also contains betaine, a bioactive pigment that is thought to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. Watercress is high in antioxidant vitamins and iodine and has potential anti-cancer properties. By combining these two superfoods in a raw salad you are consuming a potent dose vitamins and antioxidants as well as healthy fibre. Using extra virgin olive oil as a dressing brings additional benefits; quality cold pressed olive oil has a host of scientifically proven health benefits.


One cup watercress shoots and leaves
One medium raw beetroot
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice


Choose watercress with plenty of crisp green leaves and remove any tough stalks. Wash well to remove any grit and pesticides.

Peel the beetroot and either grate with a broad gauge grater or slice finely with a mandolin into matchstick sized batons.

Mix the watercress and beetroot in a bowl and season to taste with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. You could also add a crushed clove of garlic but I find that this overpowers the flavours of the other ingredients.

If you find the taste of raw beetroot to be too strong for your taste simply roast or boil it whole with the skin still on until soft and then peel and slice finely.


If you want to make this dish into more of a main dish than a starter, consider one of these healthy embellishments:

A handful of toasted pumpkin seeds adds an extra taste and texture and is loaded with healthy oils.

Add half a ripe avocado (the Has variety with wrinkled black skin are best) and some finely sliced red onion. Or, add punchy anchovy fillets, smoked salmon or grilled mackerel instead of the onion for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

Add walnuts and sliced red apple or pear for a fresh taste and a little crunch. Walnuts and feta cheese also go well and the sharp taste of the feta sets off the earthiness of the beetroot.

Add a handful of cooked spelt or barley grains for texture and healthy carbohydrates. 

For a warm salad, cook the beetroot and top the salad with a poached egg. 

© 2010 Alex Bramwell. Photo Credit; avlxyz

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