The raw goodness of watercress
Watercress leaves may have all the softness of lambs' lettuce, but don't let it fool you.
While the stalks give watercress more bite, with a surprising snap and crunch, the peppery aftertaste makes this one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves around.
Watercress is related to the mustard plant and radish, and is at its seasonal best from April to October.
What does watercress offer?
Brimming with vitamins and minerals, and grown in pure spring water, watercress contains high amounts of iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C and E.
Pair watercress with distinctive-tasting fish, such as smoked mackerel, haddock or trout, use in sandwiches (instead of lettuce), add to salads, or make a summer soup that can be served hot or cold.
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Tips for buying and storing
The better the quality of watercress to begin with, the longer the freshness can be maintained.
- Choose bunches that show no signs of wilting.
- Avoid those with bruised, torn leaves or crushed stems.
- The watercress should be bright green in colour, with firm stems at its peak.
- When watercress is in decline, the leaves begin to darken and stems become limp.
- Avoid any slimy texture to your watercress.
If storing in the fridge in a food bag, leave the bag open slightly to allow any residual moisture to escape. It should last for about three days. You can also store watercress in water for up to 5 days, but only submerge the stems, not the leaves.
Light and refreshing watercress recipes
Fluffy watercress soup
Watercress bean salad
Poached salmon blinis
Tomato pepper salad
Try this: The Ultimate Watercress Rainbow Salad
Serves: 4. £1.71 per serving. Gluten-free. Vegetarian. 3 portions of fruit and veg per serving.
1. Slice 2 cooked beetroots and 1 medium yellow pepper into fine matchsticks and combine with 2 grated carrots in a large salad bowl, along with drained green lentils from a 400g tin.
2. Next, whisk together 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp honey. Pour into the vegetable and lentil mixture so that all the ingredients are coated in the dressing.
3. Gently toss 100g watercress through the salad, crumble over 75g feta cheese, followed by 2 tbsp fresh parsley. Arrange the slices of 1 medium avocado on top of the salad.
4. Finally, sprinkle the seeds of 1 pomegranate on top to finish the salad. Serve.
Per serving (438g): Kcal 338, Protein 16.8g, Carbs 37.5g, Sugars 19.3g, Fat 17.8g, Sat fat 5g, Salt 1g.