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Why Watercress is a Spring Produce Win

Why Watercress is a Spring Produce Win

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 Grow, Cook, and Eat Delicious Watercress

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!

Read more: Eating for Health, Food, Green Kitchen Tips, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , , , , ,

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

86 comments

+ add your own
12:18PM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

I can't find watercress in any market south of Buffalo, NY

3:14AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Thanks. Useful information.

4:21PM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

Thank you :)

1:00PM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

Watery

4:55PM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

This vegetable sounds great, and should be more common.

9:07AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

thanks

6:40AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

noted

1:01AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Thanks for sharing .

1:14AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

Julie W. I do rather agree. IF you are going to push a veg, you really shouldn't demonstrate your total ignorance of said veg!

The flavour can be strong, and the older the plant the hotter the taste. It uses the same chemicals as it's relation, mustard.

Serving size: a small handful of sprigs in a mixed salad - the article is spot on with the sandwich, except it is MUCH nicer made with good quality salted butter.

Recipe for soup: melt a chopped onion in butter, add a spoonful of flour to make a roux, fold in a big handful of chopped watercress, top up with a couple of mugfuls of mild stock/ water/ milk (your choice) and stir stir stir. Simmer a few minutes, liquidise if you want, eat.

11:23PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing!!

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