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How to cook Watercress

How to cook Watercress

Give watercress a rinse, dry thoroughly and then you’re good to go! Use as a salad leaf with lemony dressing, or stir into pasta or risotto to wilt for a peppery kick. Watercress is also delicious used instead of basil in fresh pesto.

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READ: Watercress & ginger pork balls noodle soup


Watercress is a fantastic peppery leaf, delicious in salads or even blitzed into a green soup for extra oomph.


Watercress is in season from April to December.


Store watercress in the fridge for maximum freshness.

What are the health benefits?

Watercress is packed with vitamins K and C, and it's also a source of manganese. One cereal bowl of watercress is a portion of your 5-a-day.

How to make the most of watercress – recipe

W atercress is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, and the whole plant – the thin and thick stalks, as well as the leaves – is edible. To serve raw, pull into manageably sized pieces that are easy to eat with a fork. If any of the thicker stems are notably tough and fibrous, save them to make today’s “pesto”, or refine them to use alongside the rest of the bunch by piling them up and finely chopping across the grain.

Watercress is easily bruised and doesn’t keep for long, so it’s best to buy it in smaller quantities that you know you will be able to use up. To prolong its life, store in the fridge with the base of the stems in a bowl of water. If it does begin to wilt, give it a quick wash and cook it – watercress can be swapped out for or included alongside just about any green I especially like it stir-fried whole with garlic and served with a splash of soy sauce.

Watercress pesto is divine, whether you toss it through pasta much as you would a basil-based one, enjoy alongside roast vegetables or use as the base for a salad dressing. Watercress, hemp, orange and blue cheese all go particularly well with beetroot, so dress cooked beets and watercress sprigs with this pesto to make a mind-blowing salad.

Watercress Curry Recipe

Watercress are common salad greens - in our home it was a hearty vegetable meal on Mondays- our primary day of prayer and abstinence from meat, long before the term 'Meatless Monday' became fashionable. Watercress Herbs Curry was one of the many herb curries made by Amma – which she termed ‘braised’. Although these dishes do not contain any powdered spice-the term braised in this instance implies cooked dry (i.e. until all water has evaporated). Back then acquiring watercress was not as simple as visiting the local supermarket –like most special foods it was acquired by a system of exchange between family members or perhaps one of Amma’s ‘friends’ who worked in the fields. Amma was well known for being a gentle heart-always giving food to the Zulu women called 'mabayis'- whose living quarters were located close to our house. It was common practice for some women to bring Amma watercress or other herbs in exchange for food or clothes.

The Watercress (Nasturtium officinale ) featured in this recipe is the aquatic variant of cress different from the type found in gardens. The latter is named Upland Cress (Barbarea vulgaris) –which has a more nutty flavor. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale ) is available in most supermarkets in the salad section. Seeds for Upland Cress (Barbarea vulgaris) can be purchased in specialty seed/gardening stores…or perhaps you are fortunate to have them already growing wild in the garden like Amma had.

Apart from watercress there were several other herbs (edible weeds) picked from our garden.
My younger sister and I sometimes helped Amma pick herbs - the Upland Cress in our garden was very similar to the dandelion plants which my sister and I often picked but Amma was always very fussy about picking the right 'herbs' and not weeds as she called them.

One of the key characteristics that set Amma’s herbs curry from those cooked by others was that her herbs always looked appetizing - retaining a dark green color. Amma’s secret to achieving this was not to cook herbs with a closed pot but to place the lid slightly open. Apart from the green color this also helped evaporate the water resulting in perfectly dry herbs curry. This simple yet delicious form of curry comprises of minimal ingredients with delicious results and is nutritious too since most herbs are rich in nutrients.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

  • 5 cups watercress
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies or whole dried chillies (use desired limit)
  • 1 onion sliced fine
  • 1 cup water
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
    1. Wash and prepare the herbs. 2. Heat a pan on medium heat. Add the oil. Add the onions. Fry until soft. Add the garlic.

4. Add cubed potatoes. Add the water. Stir then cover and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are semi cooked.

5. Add the watercress. Do not mix. Place the lid over the pot leaving a small gap or leave open. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Once dry remove from stove. Serve with rice or phutu.

Cook that watercress!

I’m amazed at how many people I talk to that have gathered cress for years have never thought of cooking it. I love a good salad any time of the year, but, safety of eating raw cress aside, I harvest watercress in large amounts specifically so I can cook it, since it’s easier to eat large quantities cooked than it is raw. Consume mass quanitites!

A quick steam is my favorite way to enjoy this plant, with a good glob of butter, salt and lemon at the end.

Safety, Pollution, and Liver Fluke

Whether you’re picking in a spring or creek, a pond, or wherever else, you need to know about the water you’re picking it from, and a few other things. If you’re new to picking watercress, hands down the most important thing in my view, is knowing that the water is clean.

Even in situations where you know the water is good, like my private spring that’s pictured here, nature happens: keep your eyes peeled for decomposing animals, or other dead things floating in the water, and if you are at all skeptical of where you’re harvesting, skip the watercress, or blanch it in a large volume of salted water (start with a gallon).

I’m lucky, since I can easily inspect the entire pond while I’m harvesting, If you pick from a flowing stream, things can be more difficult to sniff out, the rotting beaver carcass or hog farm may be out of sight, up stream. Know where you’re picking from, and inspect it before you harvest. Regarding liver fluke specifically (a nasty thing) I’ve heard that it’s probably too cold for them to thrive in cold-ish places where I harvest in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but to be safe, you can always cook your cress.

Very young, small watercress. If you see this, keep looking along the stream for a bigger patch. Note the long roots which are helpful in the ID process.

5 of the best watercress recipes

Watercress is unfairly looked over a lot of the time – this peppery, mustardy green is incredibly versatile, lending a lovely fresh flavour to salads, soups, stews and plenty more. Here are five ways to put this classic British leaf to good use.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

We take watercress for granted in the UK – it’s so easily available to us all year round that we’ve become a little numb to its considerable powers. We’re often allured to other bitter greens such as rocket, and yet watercress has bags of flavour and is wonderfully versatile. On top of that, it carries an impressive array of minerals and nutrients in those shoots and leaves – watercress is naturally high in Vitamins A and K and a natural source of protein, calcium, potassium and fibre.

Though we tend to treat watercress as a bitter leaf, it’s actually far more versatile than that. It’s a closer relative of plants like mustard, wasabi and radish, which explains the intense peppery flavour that you get from the leaves and stems. Instead of lending a flat bitterness to dishes, it brings more of a mustardy heat – a rounded flavour that really accentuates certain ingredients.

Young watercress tends to be milder, making it suitable to eat fresh in sandwiches and salads. The flavour gets more pungent as the plant gets older – this is when you can start looking to other dishes. There’s something quintessentially British about watercress soup, but the possibilities stretch far beyond that – it brings a beautifully verdant flavour to purees, a wonderful peppery edge to a pesto or a salsa verde, or you can even blend it into a compound butter to spread on a sandwich!

You can buy watercress throughout the year, but it really is at its best when it’s fresh. April to September is the best time to look out for watercress grown locally (most is grown in natural spring waterbeds in Hampshire and Dorset) – the more local it is, the fresher it is likely to be. Look for fresh, bright green leaves – anything discoloured or wilted is best avoided. Once you’ve found that perfect pack, check out a few of our favourite ways to eat watercress below.

Top 10 ways to eat watercress

Watercress is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in thousands of recipes. Although its incredible health benefits are at their most potent when it is consumed raw, watercress can also be added into a range of hot dishes to add a delicious flavour as well as fantastic colour and texture. Here are just some of the reasons why adding plenty of watercress into your diet can improve your health:

It helps fight colon and breast cancer. Studies have shown that a chemical compound found in watercress interferes with a critical protein in cancer development. This compound, known as PEITC, can actually prevent tumours from growing and slows the spread of cancerous cells.

It slows skin aging - A compound found in watercress, ITC, can prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin, and can even promote collagen growth, leading to younger, healthier and more elastic skin.

It helps lower blood pressure - Watercress contains high levels of nitrates. These create higher amounts of elasticity in the blood vessels and therefore reduce blood pressure.

It improves eye health - Compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, found in watercress, help block blue light from reaching the retina. This means a reduction in light induced oxidative damage, reducing the risk of age-related eye health degeneration.

To help you incorporate this Super Salad into your diet, we have selected our recommended top ten ways to eat watercress along with some delicious recipe ideas for inspiration. Remember that you can buy watercress from the bagged salad section of your local supermarket. Happy cooking!

Cook’s Expert Tips on Watercress Recipes Chinese

Good food is spotted at first sight, even before tasting it. Therefore, you mustn’t overcook the vegetables. You want it to retain its bright green color while being served. report this ad

Cooking using the watercress recipes Chinese should be done rapidly under medium to high heat settings. That means that you are bound to miss out on the nutrient content, more so the vitamins. However, by adding water starch with the vegetables, you will retain the nutrients.

The vegetable should be washed well in advance and allowed to drain before cooking.

You can also add chili to make it hot.

If you are unsure of well seasoned rice wine, try Shao Hsing. It is available in most Chinese markets and major supermarkets. However, in the unlikely event that you cannot find this particular sauce, suitable alternatives include dry sherry.

Watercress Recipes Chinese

Watercress Namul

As I mentioned in my sigeumchi namul post , n amul is the general term that refers to a seasoned vegetable side dish. An infinite number of farm-grown or wild vegetables are used to make nauml dishes in Korea. One of my favorites, which can easily be found here in America, is watercress. I love its slightly bitter and peppery flavor. When lightly cooked, watercress has that crunchy and chewy texture Korean namul is known for.

Depending on where you are, you may often find this dish among many side dishes served at Korean restaurants. It is unbelievably easy to make and loaded with nutrients. So, add this to your list of Korean side dishes!

Like spinach, watercress cooks down significantly, so double the recipe if you&rsquore serving more than 2 people or want to have some leftover for the next day. It is great in bibimbap as well.

Ingredients :
1 bunch watercress (about 6 &ndash 8 ounces)
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Wash the watercress thoroughly.

Boil about 10 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Blanch the watercress until wilted, 30 &ndash 40 seconds.

Quickly remove it from the pot and shock in cold water to stop the cooking.

Drain and gently squeeze out excess water. Cut into 2 to 3-inch lengths.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix everything well, by hand. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes for the seasonings to seep into the watercress.

Discovering Wild Watercress in Surprising Places!

During our travels over the years, we also discovered wild watercress along a trout stream in Sedona, AZ , as well as by the streams of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon .

Let me tell you, the sight of us cooking up curry ramen with fresh watercress has made many a passing hiker very envious!

Admittedly, wild watercress is quite a lucky find to stumble upon, so better to keep an eye on this tasty water-loving vegetable at your local market to enjoy this watercress soup.

chuchart duangdaw/Getty Images

Watercress is an aquatic leafy vegetable that grows in cool, shallow streams.

Native to Eurasia, the plant’s medicinal and culinary uses can be traced back to ancient times. The nutrient-packed veggie has been tasked with treating everything from bad breath to blood disorders (when Hippocrates founded the world’s first hospital in 400 B.C.E., he grew watercress outside for this purpose).

There are also quite a few old superstitions surrounding the vegetable: Ancient Greeks believed eating watercress would make you witty, while Victorians thought it could get rid of freckles.

The watercress plant, which produces tiny four-petaled white flowers, is recognizable from its small, rounded green leaves. Since its pale green stems are hollow, they float in water.

From its stems to its leave, the entire plant is edible. While you can eat watercress roots, you probably don’t want to—most people find them rather unpleasant.

How do you prepare watercress for soup?

Our family prepares all greens in the same way, and preparing watercress for soup is no different. Here’s how we get the best results for our Chinese Watercress Soup:

Divide the watercress into smaller segments. This really depends on personal preference, but Grandma usually breaks each watercress into 10 cm (4″) long parts and rests them in a colander, ready to be washed.

Every part of watercress can be eaten, so you can keep the stalks for the soup!

Wash the watercress. Just like how we prepare the greens for our Stir Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic and Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with Oyster Sauce, the watercress is washed in a sink of cold salted water, rinsed then drained in a colander and left to drip dry until they’re ready to be used.

Tip: When shopping for watercress, avoid the older stems because it will remain tough when cooked. To choose the younger ones, press your nail into the stem. If it breaks through easily, the watercress will remain tender in the soup.

Watch the video: Watercress 101 - Everything You Need To Know (December 2021).