If you’re not a fan of watercress already then this is a must read for you since watercress is one of the most highly underrated salad leaves and ingredients many of us walk by in the supermarket. Its small, delicate-looking round leaves pack in an almighty amount of nutrients which will do wonders for your health. Plus, their peppery, spicy flavour are a great addition to soups, sandwiches, salads or even dips!
Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. It is believed to have originated in Ancient Greece and is the only commercial crop the Romans would recognise today! It remains an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which is amongst the healthiest diets in the world.
From a nutritional perspective, 1 serving of watercress contains 100% of your daily intake of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Furthermore, it is antioxidant-rich, to protect our bodies against illnesses and stress which is associated with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.
The 2 main types of Cress are:
- Watercress – usually the peppery leaves you buy in a packet from the supermarket
- Garden Cress – the small plant with sprouts in
Grow your own Garden Cress
Garden cress has a slightly milder flavour than watercress. Its leaves are in season from April-October in the UK, and whilst many buy readily bagged from the supermarket, this can be an expensive way of getting these nutritious greens in. You can easily grow your own fresh leaves at home for a fraction of the cost. You don’t even need a garden, a pot or tray and a shady area is all you need.
Place a few moist paper towels, or layer of soil, onto a tray. Simply sprinkle the seeds over and place the tray in a sunny location, such as on the windowsill. Water the tray regularly with a water spray to keep the paper towels moist. The seeds will sprout in about 2-3 days. Begin harvesting when they are 2-3 inches tall. Use kitchen scissors to cut ½ inch from the tray. Once you cut it, it will keep on growing back time and time again! Once you cut your cress, it can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
How to eat
Watercress and garden cress are extremely versatile. Here are a few simple cress recipes:
- New potato and watercress salad (find our recipe here)
- Watercress soup
- Egg & cress sandwich
- Watercress pesto
- Watercress mash potato
- A pomegranate, watercress and chickpea baked sweet potato
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.