Deutsch: Brunnenkresse / Español: Berro / Português: Agrião / Français: Cresson / Italiano: Crescione

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable known for its peppery, slightly spicy flavor, making it a popular ingredient in salads, soups, and sandwiches. It belongs to the family Brassicaceae, which also includes mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbage.

Description

Watercress grows in water and is harvested from clean, shallow streams or water systems. It is recognized by its small, round, leafy greens attached to stems that are crisp and juicy. Due to its high water content and tender texture, watercress is usually consumed fresh, although it can also be lightly cooked, which reduces its peppery flavor.

Watercress is not only favored for its unique taste but also for its nutritional content. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and contains significant amounts of calcium, iron, and folate, making it beneficial for bone and blood health.

Application Areas

Watercress is versatile and used in various culinary preparations:

  • Salads: Often added to salads for a peppery kick, complementing other greens and salad ingredients.
  • Soups: Commonly used in soups, either as a key ingredient or as a garnish, particularly in the classic British watercress soup.
  • Sandwiches: Adds flavor and crunch to sandwiches, often paired with creamy ingredients to balance its peppery taste.
  • Juices and Smoothies: Included in health drinks for its nutrient content and spicy flavor.

Well-Known Examples

Some popular dishes that feature watercress include:

  • Watercress Salad: Mixed with vinaigrette and other salad greens or used as a bed for proteins like grilled chicken or salmon.
  • English Watercress Soup: A creamy soup that highlights the mild, peppery flavor of watercress.
  • Steak and Watercress Sandwiches: Combining the spiciness of watercress with rich meats like steak to enhance flavors.

Treatment and Risks

Watercress is generally safe to consume with a few considerations:

  • Waterborne Contaminants: Since watercress grows in water, it is crucial to ensure it is sourced from clean, uncontaminated water to avoid potential health risks.
  • Nutrient Interaction: High in vitamin K, watercress can interact with blood-thinning medications. Individuals on such medications should consume watercress in moderation and consult with a healthcare provider.

Recipes

Here are simple recipes for using watercress:

  • Simple Watercress Salad:
    • Ingredients: 1 bunch of watercress, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper).
    • Method: Wash and trim watercress. Toss with strawberries, almonds, and vinaigrette just before serving.
  • Classic Watercress Soup:
    • Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 potato peeled and diced, 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 200g watercress, salt and pepper, cream (optional).
    • Method: Melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and potato, cook until soft. Add broth, bring to a boil, then simmer until potato is tender. Add watercress, cook for a few more minutes. Blend until smooth, season to taste, and add a splash of cream if desired.

Similar Terms

  • Leafy greens
  • Salad greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Peppery vegetables
  • Nutrient-rich greens

Summary

Watercress is a nutrient-packed, peppery green vegetable that enhances the flavor and nutritional value of dishes. Its versatility makes it suitable for fresh salads, warm soups, and as a healthy addition to drinks and sandwiches.

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