While gardens are still bundling their energy for the new season, watercress is ready for harvesting in March and brings culinary delights onto the market well into early May. It grows in clear water sources and, when freshly plucked, has firm leaves and crispy stems.
It’s a real power pack, full of key vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and glucosinolate. You don’t need to remember the big word, you only need to know what it produces in the body, namely mustard oil, a quasi, plant-based antibiotic that acts as a strong expectorant and boosts digestion.
It tastes a little like horseradish: spicy with a slightly bitter flavour. But it is the bitterness that activates the stomach and adds a note of excitement to dishes. Use it sparingly so that you don’t cover up the flavours of the other ingredients.
Cress is very easy to prepare: rinse it briefly under water, shake it dry and turn it into a hearty, fresh salad with lemon vinaigrette as an accompaniment to grilled, sliced steak.
If it’s a strong flavour you’re looking for, you can make a great salad from lively grapefruit filets with creamy avocado, lightly roasted walnuts and watercress. You can tone down the flavour using pears or apples rather than grapefruit. You can add a handful of watercress to mashed potato or sprinkle the same amount on top of a Pizza Margherita – a quick, green addition that gives a dish the bite it needs but also peppery notes.
And for all those who want start the day the healthy way, make a freshly-squeezed juice from cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper and of course watercress. It gives both body and mind a morning boost in wondrously healthy ways!