"Although water-cress is not a native of North America it has made itself so entirely at home in many of our streams that we hardly look upon it as a stranger. Whoever, after a long ramble through the woods on a summer morning, has plucked its fresh, pungent leaves from some sparkling stream and added them to his frugal sandwich, looks upon the little plant with a sense of familiar gratitude which we rarely feel toward an alien."
~How to Know the Wild Flowers-1900
Watercress is an old fashioned plant, yet many perceive it as "trendy" or "fancy". It's easy to grow from seed for harvesting year round, and it's readily available in most produce sections.
Watercress may be seeded directly in very moist soil 1/4" deep. Thin the seedlings to 4" apart and keep well watered, or start seed indoors, keeping the soil moist. You may transplant to large pots, a cold frame, or your garden using soil which is fertile and rich. Keep the soil moist, or sit pots in pans of water which you replenish daily.
Watercress can be harvested as needed. It's biting taste is a wonderful addition to your fresh salads, and a favorite for tea sandwiches. Pick some up on your next trip to the produce section or farmer's market if not growing your own, and try these classic recipes.
1 pint watercress
1 red onion
Pick over the leaves of the cress, removing all bruised or wilted ones, wash and drain. Break the stems into small two inch pieces with your fingers. Place cress in a salad bowl, top with thinly sliced onion and your favorite French dressing.
Variations: Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. You may mix the cress half and half with dandelion greens as well and use the same recipe.
1 1/4 cups cress
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Wash, dry and tear the watercress into bite size pieces. Sprinkle the watercress with salt and paprika, then mix with mayonnaise. Lay between sliced of brown bread and cut into small triangles.
Variation: Mix 3 hard cooked eggs into the cress and chop both finely. Spread on thin slices of buttered wheat bread.
1 quart chopped watercress
1 quart stock of your choice
1 cup whole milk, half and half or cream, heated
small onion, shredded, or processed fine
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper and nutmeg to taste
Wash the cress well, and chop fine (keeping the stems on). Mix the chopped cress and your stock; cook about 30 minutes and puree in blender, processor or you can press through a strainer with a wooden spoon. Mix the flour with the butter, then add along with the your heated milk, onion and seasonings to the broth. Bring to a light boil and cook two minutes. Makes 5 servings.
About the AuthorBrenda Hyde is a freelance writer, editor, herb gardener and mother to three children. For more garden recipes and tips visit her at OldFashionedLiving.com.