Watercress belongs to the mustard family and is an aquatic salad green that is also considered an herb. It has a pleasantly strong bite and pairs well with lighter flavourings, especially in sauces. While originating in Asia and Europe, “cress” is found growing wild in clear waters throughout many countries. Commercially grown plants are harvested from protected beds that are free of contaminants.
While it is often used fresh and as a garnish, watercress can be puréed with potatoes or chickpeas. Watercress sandwiches are a long-standing staple at teatime in Great Britain.
- Watercress is available year-round.
- Watercress is typically sold in bunches, but smaller markets may stock it loose in bins. Look for firm stalks and large, dark leaves that are relatively clean.
- Sniff watercress and avoid any with an unpleasant smell.
- Keep moist in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Do not wash. Watercress will remain fresh for up to five days. For freezing, wash and chop or purée.
Soak in cold water to revive tired leaves.
Wash under cool running water.
Pat dry with paper towels or place in a salad spinner.
Trim small cresses away from their root-balls with scissors. For salad or quick cooking, trim watercress leaves and discard the larger tough stems. If making soup, retain the stems.
Blanch, drain, and blend with a favourite salad oil or dressing.
Use in combination with lettuce on sandwiches.
Crush or coarsely process and add to rice dishes.
Blend watercress, scallions, and yogurt or buttermilk and serve with salmon.
Serve watercress as a bed for roast beef or roast chicken so that it wilts and absorbs the juices.
Combine sprigs of watercress, orange or ruby grapefruit segments, and toasted almonds with shreds of Chinese barbecued duck meat or confit of duck, then dress with sherry vinegar and virgin olive oil.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Herb
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