50 Shades of Green Series: Watercress Salad with Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Hi loves! I'm backkkkkk! I guess I do a lot of this back and forth blogging but with a full time job and trying to have a life, things get busy. But I am back, and here to stay with some fun things to come! :)

Just in time for the exciting release of the 50 Shades of Grey film (although I hear it's really bad), I am starting a series here called "50 Shades of Green", where each month I will highlight the nutritional benefits of a green fruit or vegetable and provide a recipe to go along with it! This is to inspire you to get some more greens into your life and to also get you in the kitchen experimenting with some foods you may have never heard of or have been curious to try. I will do my darndest to ensure that the recipes I include here are easy and accessible. I will have tested and put my own spin on each one before sharing, so you can be sure it will be delicious and healthy! I hope you enjoy this series!

For the first shade of green, the spotlight is on Watercress, a leafy green that has landed the spot for number one superfood by the CDC based on its nutrient density (but of course, kale still holds a place near and dear to my heart).  Needless to say it is a nutritional powerhouse, and a gorgeous one at that! 

Watercress is one of the oldest leafy greens consumed by humans. It has a pungent, peppery, bitter, yet sweet flavor, along the lines of mustard or radish (they are in the same botanical family). Ideally, it is best consumed raw, steamed, lightly cooked, as tea, or juiced.

Nutritional Profile: Watercress is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and manganese. It also contains significant amounts of carotenoids (organic pigments), including lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two carotenoids that are particularly beneficial for eye and cardiovascular health.

Potential health benefits: Not only is this green delicious, but it has gained accolade for some of its healing qualities. In particular, it may accelerate liver rejuvenation and detoxification. In smokers, watercress has shown to detoxify a carcinogenic tobacco metabolite. It may also improve digestion by stimulating bile formation. 

Preparation: Preparing watercress for cooking/eating is quite simple. You simply trim the stems (you may also find it still with its roots and soil), rinse in cold water and dry on a dish towel or in a salad spinner. You should either use right away or you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Doesn't this green sound like something you want to eat?! To be honest, until I began working on this recipe, I hadn't tried watercress myself! But I am so glad I did - it has quickly turned into a staple in our house.

The following recipe is so delicious and simple, and can be eaten as a side or as a meal, depending on your appetite. 

watercress2

WATERCRESS SALAD WITH CUMIN ROASTED SWEET POTATOES

watercress salad 1

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1-2 inch matchsticks
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 large bunch of watercress
  • 2 oz goat cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into cubes (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat, toss sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Roast on upper rack until tender (30-35 minutes), tossing halfway through.
  2. On another rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or Silpat, toss walnuts with cayenne & 1/2 tsp olive oil. Bake on lower rack until golden brown (around 6 minutes). Caution: don't forget about the nuts in the oven! This happens to me all the time.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, honey, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add watercress and toss to combine. Transfer to bowls and top with sweet potatoes, walnuts, goat cheese, and avocado. 
  4. Enjoy!
watercress salad 2

Have you tried watercress before? What are some of your favorite ways to use it?