Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. It's a member of the cabbage family and is related to peppery mustard greens.
The University of Ulster in the UK, where they eat a lot more watercress than we Americans do, says: "After decades of being pushed to the side of the plate as nothing more than a decorative garnish, watercress is currently enjoying a renaissance."
This new attention comes as people search for new ways to add a spicy snap to salads and sandwiches. Also, watercress may be a cancer fighter.
Here in New York City we found watercress available at Fairway and other better grocery stores. It is sold in bunches (on the right side of this picture) or in hydroponic packs with roots still attached (on the left in the picture) from Live Gourmet. The Live Gourmet watercress is milder and the stems are thinner.
Earlier this week, we shared a steamed watercress recipe inspired by monks. Now we learn on Watercress.co.uk that "Irish monks were said to survive for long periods eating only bread and watercress and referred to watercress as 'pure food for sages.'" We also learned that some swear by watercress as a hangover cure.
This time of year we appreciate watercress as a way to get the tender greens we crave on to our plates on the days when something more local is not yet available. There's lots of watercress recipes, including watercress pesto and watercress souffle, over at the BBC.
From Our Archive
Recipe: Pumpernickel, Watercress and Mushroom Bread Salad