from the Old English cresse
Herbaceous plant grown for its edible, slightly bitter leaves.Watercress is so called because it grows in basins of running water.
Nothing evokes springtime better than cress, bursting with vitamins and with a nose-tickling peppery flavour. Go green! Cress played an important historical role, filling the nutritional deficiencies that resulted from a limited and repetitive diet. Sailors even took its seeds along to sow randomly on their travels, all the way to the Arctic shores where scurvy was raging.
Nasturtium genus, Cruciferae family
Origin: Middle East
Nutritional values per 100 g
Calories: 32; Carbohydrates: 5.5 g; Fat: 0.7 g; Protein: 2.6 g.
Rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins A, B and C.
Look for tightly packed, slightly moist leaves that are nice and green. Avoid yellowed or wilted leaves.
Cress is fragile and will last in the crisper for only very few days.
To keep it longer, place the stems in a glass of water.
It can be chopped and used like parsley: in soups, salads and on grilled potatoes.
For recipes ("à la cressonnière") which call for a cress purée: Cook the cress with a little water and butter in a covered pan. Purée with potato or chick peas (an amount equal to 1/3 of the volume of the cress), a little cream and butter. This mixture is often served with fried, poached or hard-boiled eggs. Sauce cressonnière - Blend cress with hard-boiled eggs, oil and vinegar.
- Accompany cress with avocado, Webb lettuce, celery, cabbage, lettuce, orange, grapefruit, sweet pepper, leek, romaine, tomato or apple. Flavourings: olive oil, garlic, lemon, almond, Gruyère.
- Try this wild salad - cress, watermelon, minced shallots, chopped chervil, citrus dressing.
- Combine cress with endive, celery, apple and cider-vinegar dressing.
- Meunière - cress, chopped onion, a little olive oil and fresh butter, warmed together in a pan.
- Blanch cress in boiling water or light stock. Blend with a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid. Mix with reduced cream or bechamel to make a soup.
Belgium - Cream of watercress to accompany salmon: put the cress in a blender with cream, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Netherlands - Cress and Gouda quiche.
England - blanched and combined with butter to use as a filling for little tea sandwiches.
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