- What is Watercress?
- When Is Watercress in Season?
- Where to Buy Watercress?
- Why Is Watercress Spicy?
- Why Is Watercress A Superfood?
- How to Prepare Watercress?
- Can Watercress Be Frozen?
- How to Store Watercress?
- What Does Watercress Taste Like?
- What Goes Well with Watercress?
- How to Use Watercress in Salads?
- Salad Recipes with Watercress
What is Watercress?
Watercress is a leafy vegetable that grows in shallow streams. This aquatic vegetable’s botanical name is Nasturtium officinale, and it belongs to the cabbage family. It is therefore closely related to horseradish and mustards.
This plant is ancient and was touted to have medicinal powers and widely used by the Greeks, Persians and Romans. It was used to treat bad breath, blood disorders, insanity and even as a stimulant.
In England, however, they are used to treat scurvy and soldiers and sailors refer to watercress as a poor man’s food. It wasn’t until European immigrants introduced watercress to the North American that they got elevated to become a popular garnish.
The plant has small rounded green leaves, and the stems are hollow, which is why they float in the cool water. The entire plant is edible from stem to leaves.
When Is Watercress in Season?
Watercress peaks during the winter months but they have become more readily available throughout the year.
Where to Buy Watercress?
You can find watercress in supermarkets, greengrocers and farmer’s markets.
During the offseason, they are a little harder to find in mainstream supermarkets. So if I get desperate, I’ll head to a fine greengrocer.
A broth-based watercress soup is incredibly popular in Chinese cuisine so you may find them in Asian supermarkets too.
Why Is Watercress Spicy?
As watercress is a mustard/horseradish family member, it has a unique mustard oil in the plant, which causes the vegetable to take on a spicy flavour.
Why Is Watercress A Superfood?
Watercress was dubbed as the superfood of all time beating even the popular kale.
In 2014, researchers at William Paterson University put together a list of 41 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” ranked by the amount of fibre, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other nutrients they contain.
The leafy green veggie topped the list with a perfect score of 100!
This extremely nutrient-dense plant helps with good bone health, weight loss, lowering heart disease, diabetes and cancer while also giving our immune system a natural boost.
How to Prepare Watercress?
The stem of the watercress is edible so if you like you can keep them on unless they are a little old and become tough to eat. If you are not a fan of the stem, you can cut it off to the point where you’re happy to eat it. Or pick the leaves only.
The leaves are delicate, so I would submerge them in water rather than run them underwater.
Leave them to one side and allow it to dry.
Can Watercress Be Frozen?
You can freeze watercress, but if the intention is to eat them raw, I would advise against it. After thawing it will lose all its freshness and bounce.
If however, you’re going to put it in a soup or some cooked recipe, then it’s perfectly fine.
How to Store Watercress?
Wrap the roots with a damp cloth and then place them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
What Does Watercress Taste Like?
Flavour: The watercress’ overwhelming flavour is peppery or slightly spicy and a fresh, sharp vegetable flavour. They can be a bit bitter if they are more mature.
This pungency is reduced after it has gone through a cooking process.
Texture: The small green leaves are delicate and soft when eaten raw. The hollow stems are crunchy. When cooked, the leaves wilt and the stem soften.
What Goes Well with Watercress?
Fruit and Vegetables
Avocado, bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, chilli, cucumber, fennel, ginger, horseradish, leek, onion, orange, pear, persimmon, potato, sweet potato.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Almonds, cashew, coriander, parsley, pine nuts, pistachio.
Protein and Other
Beef, chicken, egg, feta cheese, fish, goat cheese, ham, pepitas, salmon, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
How to Use Watercress in Salads?
Watercress is best enjoyed raw and fresh in salads
As you can eat both the stem and the leaves, you can add it all to the recipe.
Watercress can also be used in a Green Goddess style salad dressing which is perfect if you want to increase your superfoods intake!
Salad Recipes with Watercress
Tame the peppery tousled watercress with the creaminess of the avocado and the distinct umami flavours of the ponzu salad dressing. This Gem Avocado Salad is a crazy easy salad that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes!
Super-fast and easy Watercress Salad that you can throw together for the perfect side dish to a juicy grilled steak or charred lamb chops. The crunchy apple and pear with the peppery kick of the watercress adds a good punch to any meal.
Bring the glorious spring blooms into the kitchen and create this herbaceous salad with edible flowers. Delicate, aromatic and sophisticated, this recipe screams beautiful and may be even way too pretty to eat.
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