Watercress is a peppery, leafy green vegetable that has been used in salads and cooking for centuries.
It’s been grown since the ancient days of Greece.
In fact, it was one of the only vegetables to make its way across Europe during medieval times because it could be harvested year-round in cooler climates.
This blog post will answer what does watercress taste like and how to use watercress so you can create your tasty dish.
What is Watercress?
Watercress is a leafy green vegetable with small, dark-green curly leaves that has been used for centuries in Asia and Europe as an ingredient to help prevent scurvy.
This vegetable grows in temperate zones and is found in the water of streams.
Watercress can be eaten raw in salads, sandwiches, and other foods. It is also a popular ingredient for pesto sauces.
Watercress can be grown quickly at home with some potting soil and seeds from a nursery or garden store.
Watercress is most often used raw as a garnish or salad ingredient. You can either add watercress leaves directly into salads made with other elements or chop them finely for use in sandwiches on top of meat fish fillets.
Health Benefits of Eating Watercress
Many people think that watercress is just a decorative vegetable.
Although it looks great on your table, there are certain health benefits of eating watercress that make it an essential part of your diet.
Watercress contains high levels of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
This essential nutrient helps develop healthy skin cells and mucus membranes.
Like all cruciferous veggies, it contains high levels of sulforaphane that help protect cells from oxidative stress (damage).
It has folate that helps promote DNA replication during cell division. Foliate has been linked with a decreased risk for birth defects or intrauterine growth restriction—both are serious pregnancy complications.
It also has dietary nitrates. The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator that helps lower blood pressure.
It is rich in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Several studies show that watercress is also an excellent source of vitamin K that helps strengthen bones and fight against bone loss.
It contains vitamins A, C, E, calcium, and magnesium for strong, healthy teeth in adults and kids alike.
To sum up, watercress is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals essential for our body.
What Does Watercress Taste Like? Does Watercress Taste Good?
Watercress offers a great way to get your daily dose of greens with its unique taste and texture.
It’s mild enough not to overpower other flavors in a dish yet has an unmistakable freshness that you’ll love if you’re new to cooking with watercress.
It has a crunchy texture as well to feel fresh on salads. It provides a touch of pepper, giving it a delicate peppery taste with some sweetness.
You can also use watercress to add flavor and texture to cooked dishes like omelets or pasta sauces.
Watercress is both an herb and a vegetable-it belongs to the cabbage family of vegetables. It’s nutty when eaten raw and has a milder, more subtle flavor than other members of its genus (mustard).
Once cooked, watercress takes on a tangier flavor that’s reminiscent of cabbage.
You can use it in stir-fries, stews, and casseroles. More mature watercress plants taste more peppery and bitter than the younger, smaller ones.
What Tastes Similar to Watercress?
Watercress is a tasty vegetable that can often be found in salads.
Unfortunately, watercress isn’t always available at the grocery store, and when it is, it’s not always cheap.
The good news is that there are many vegetables out there that taste similar to watercress.
If you’re craving a salad with some of its zingy flavors but don’t have any on hand, these substitutes will do the trick.
You can use other leafy greens like kale, mixed lettuces, or arugula to add flavor to your salad.
They pack nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K to boot.
There are also plenty of vegetables that have a similar peppery flavor.
Radishes, watermelon radish (daikon), cilantro, parsley, or dill may be worth adding to your dish.
You can even use chives; they have a similar flavor to watercress and are much easier to come by.
How Do You Prepare Watercress to Eat?
The best way to prepare watercress depends on how you plan to consume it.
To keep your watercress fresh and clean, you should remove any yellowing leaves. If brown or wilted stems are present, also discard them before cooking.
If you want to eat the leaves raw in a salad or sandwich, wash them thoroughly with cold water before adding them to your dish.
This will remove any dirt or residue on the leaves and give them a fresh taste.
If you plan to eat watercress cooked, it is best to trim off about one inch from the bottom of each stem before washing and to cook them in salted boiling water for three minutes, unless instructed otherwise by the recipe.
Suppose they are not going to be eaten right away.
In that case, it’s also crucial that they are cooled immediately after being taken out of their cooking liquid with cold running water as hot food causes bacteria to grow exponentially faster than cold food does.
How to Cook and Use Watercress in Recipes?
Traditionally served fresh watercress during winter months because its vitamin content was believed to help protect against ailments like scurvy from lack of fruits and vegetables.
Since Roman times, the British have been eating these leafy greens when they mixed it into salads or sandwiches for soldiers on long marches through Northern Europe.
It has recently found popularity worldwide due to health benefits touted by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow.
You can use watercress in several ways, but here are some tips on cooking and using watercress in recipes.
- Add it fresh or dried to sandwiches and burgers, salads or quiches for a peppery kick. Replace lettuce with baby spinach or watercress on your sandwich bun; you’ll get more of that peppery kick without sacrificing crunchy texture.
- Sauté with garlic and ginger root until soft, then add soy sauce for an Asian-style dish
- Fry with bacon until crisp, then toss together with cooked pasta noodles; top with Parmesan cheese after draining the pasta.
- Use it in a soup like a watercress soup with onion, garlic, and vegetable stock.
- Soup is a great way to use watercress because it is hearty enough for winter and does not need much cooking time. Cook it with onion, garlic, and vegetable stock a delicious meal with a low-calorie count.
Tips on Buying and Store Watercress
Watercress is a trendy vegetable that can be bought fresh or frozen.
However, it is essential to know how to select the best watercress for your needs.
Some people don’t even realize they are buying old and wilted stalks of watercress instead of crisp ones.
This might be an obvious tip but make sure you buy watercress and not another type of greens like spinach or kale.
Kale can be distinguished by its bumpy leaves, while spinach only tends to have smooth ones.
A good rule to remember is that if the watercress does not have a bright green color, it likely has been sitting there for too long.
It would be best to look for dark green, perky bunches and have a fresh smell.
Avoid any watercress with yellowing or wilting leaves, slimy texture, or an unpleasant odor.
It is also essential to distinguish between bunches with a large variety of leaf sizes and uniforms.
If you’ve selected your watercress and want to store them properly, put them into an airtight container filled with damp paper towels.
Add a splash of water to the container and close it tightly. The vegetable should last for five to seven days in the fridge.
To sum up, watercress is an excellent addition to any salad or fresh vegetable dish.
The taste of watercress is very mild. It has a slightly peppery flavor which makes its tartness more enjoyable.
It has cancer-fighting properties that help maintain healthy cells or reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
So go ahead and try it next time you’re looking for a new green veggie to add to your dish.