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Watercress

Watercress

Watercress is becoming more popular than ever as a tangy addition to salads, sandwiches, soups and more.

Nutrition Highlights

  • One cup of chopped watercress gives you an excellent source of of vitamins A, C, and K, nutrients that (respectively) promote healthy eyesight, help maintain gums and contribute to your blood's ability to clot properly. This leafy green is also a source of folic acid.

History

Watercress has been eaten since ancient times. Today, this mustardy green is used for boosting the zing of salads, soups and finger foods. As you might expect from its name, watercress can grow wild by shallow streams and lakes, where it flourishes at the edge of the water. But generally, the kind that's edible is purchased at the grocery store.

Varieties

There are only a handful of varieties of watercress. Those found in the grocery store are harvested for their leaves, which have a spicy, mustard-like savor.

Wow to Choose Watercress

Like most green, leafy veggies, watercress is best eaten when its color is dark and its leaves are crisp. If it's sold in bunches: Are its stems wilted? How do its leaves look? Like most other salad greens, fresh watercress's leaves won't be bruised or dark around the edges. If it comes pre-packaged in a plastic bag or box, check the “best if eaten by” date.

How to Store Watercress

Watercress stays freshest if you keep it in a cool, dry place, preferably stored in a resealable plastic bag. The produce drawer of your refrigerator is a prime spot. Just don't forget it's there! Like fresh spinach, lettuce, arugula or mustard greens, watercress is best if used within five days or so.

How to Cook with Watercress

Whether you buy this fragrant sprig whole or pre-chopped, what you're ultimately going to use are its leaves. To prepare a bunch of watercress, start by washing it thoroughly in cold, clean tap water. Shake excess moisture off the sprigs. On a cutting board, chop away large or tough stems, saving the leaves and smaller, more tender shoots.

What you're left with is about 3/4 of a cup of fresh watercress. If you're mixing up a salad, you can throw these right in for a spicier take on an old classic.

To make your sandwiches really pop, use a sharp knife to chop the leaves into finer pieces. Try sprinkling them inside a cucumber sandwich for a fragrant, tangy twist.

Watercress in Recipes

This recipe for Radicchio and Watercress Salad can be served warm or cool. Apples and lemon juice give it a crisp and tender texture.

If you're looking for something sophisticated, Melon and Watercress Salad with Pickled Onions tantalizes tastebuds like no other.

And for a dinner under 300 calories, this recipe for a Healthified Spring Vegetable Salad is hard to beat!

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