I was in Sprouts Market a while back and came across some fresh watercress. What a lovely find!
I first tasted watercress many moons ago in a very posh restaurant, the location of which I can’t recall now … alas, I must be getting old as for the most part I remember the details of first tastes of food the way others remember their first kiss. Yes, it’s true, and an odd talent for sure, but if I’ve had an amazing dining experience I remember everything from the specific table we sat at in the restaurant to whom I was with and what each person ordered. Be danged, I might not remember my friends’ names but I know – in detail – what they had for dinner!
So, what I do remember about my first taste of watercress was sitting at a white-clothed table in ambient light, piano music in the background and a tangle of peppery leaves and tiny stems, tossed in a Caesar style dressing, perfectly plated before me. That amazingly good salad started my love affair with watercress so I’ve longingly looked for it on menus and at markets ever since.
But like vichyssoise, a delectable cold leek and potato soup, it is much harder to find than it once was. It is interesting how foods or particular dishes come in and out of vogue. How can “delicious” go out of vogue? It’s disturbing, really.
If you are not familiar with watercress, please let me introduce you to this gorgeous green, which is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans and filled with the nutrients iron, calcium, iodine, folic acid, plus Vitamins A and C. Wikipedia describes it as “a fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia … and botanically related to garden cress, mustard and radish” — hence it’s wonderful peppery flavor … which reminds me of something between arugula and lemon-lime, if you can imagine such a unique taste.
In Asian markets you can buy varieties in bundles, like parsley or cilantro. I found mine in a sealed bag with the roots still attached. Either way, if you find it “anywhere” scoop it up and try this recipe, which is a take on one I found on Epicurious (not a remake of my first kiss … I mean, my first taste experience). As usual, I adapted the ingredients to what I had on hand.
2-3 T rice vinegar
2 t soy sauce
1 t agave syrup or honey
2 T olive oil
1 bunch of watercress, stems trimmed to include about 2 inches, thoroughly washed and dried
1 slice of a medium-sized sweet onion, finely diced
½ Gala apple, diced
½ medium avocado, diced
¼ cup rinsed and drained mini mozzarella balls
Dashes of garlic and onion powders
Wisk the vinegar, soy sauce, agave and oil together; set dressing aside.
Put watercress in a salad bowl, add onion, apple, avocado and mozzarella, dash with garlic and onion powders, then gently toss with dressing mixture until well coated.
Taste and add a little more of any of the dressing ingredients to suit your palate.
Sweet and savory, and very, very tasty. Enjoy!
Eat well. Be happy