We’re rounding out the Spring Produce Spotlight with one of my favorite unsung veggies: watercress. Here’s how to grow, cook, and eat this flavorful spring green.
Watercress is one of the lesser-known cruciferous vegetables, and it’s packed with healthy vitamins and trace minerals. There’s research suggesting that watercress helps prevent certain cancers and protects eye and heart health.
If you’re not familiar with watercress, it’s a young green that has a refreshing mouthfeel and slightly bitter flavor. At the store, you’ll find it in bundles of little shoots, and I recommend grabbing a bunch for topping salads, stuffing sandwiches, and even adding to your stir fries.
How to Grow Watercress
In the wild, watercress actually grows in shallow streams, but you don’t need constant running water to grow it at home. You can start watercress from seed or propagate a bunch that you buy at the store.
It might be too late to go from seed at this point, but it’s still worth a go. Just sprout them in clay pots that are sitting in trays of water. When the shoots produce small leaves, you’re ready to transplant. If you have a back yard The National Gardening Association recommends planting your watercress near your gutter downspouts, so they’ll get the runoff of water that they like best. Check out their instructions for building a trench for them.
If you don’t have access to this sort of setup, you just need to be very diligent about watering your watercress. From what I’m reading, this nutritious veggie will thrive in the ground or in pots, as long as you water them frequently. Water, water, water your watercress!
To harvest, just trim off what you need for your recipe, leaving a couple of inches. They should grow right back!
How to Cook & Eat Watercress
Watercress is tasty raw or cooked. Here are a few ideas!
- Try a classic watercress sandwich. Spread some vegan margarine onto a couple of slices of good bread, layer on the watercress, and you’ve got a sandwich! I like to deck out my watercress sandwiches a little bit more using avocado or hummus instead of margarine and adding some sliced tomato and maybe a little caramelized onion.
- Make a stir fry. Watercress is delicious when you lightly saute it with other fresh spring veggies. Check out this spring green stir fry recipe from Nava Atlas for some inspiration!
- Add it to salads. I’m not sure that I’d do a whole salad with watercress, but a handful in your salad bowl is definitely a treat. Treat it like other strong-flavored spring greens like sorrel or endive.
- Cook it up in soups. Watercress wilts pretty quickly, so toss it into your soups toward the end. I even like adding it just before serving, so it adds a little crunch to your bowl. It’s a nice contrast of textures and flavors.
Are you a watercress fan? Share your favorite way to eat watercress in the comments!