Watercress: Tips and Tricks

Although watercress was one of the first leaf vegetables to be cultivated and consumed by humans, not all American chefs have a day-to-day relationship with the peppery, bold vegetable. We want to change that. Supremely nutritious and capable of pumping up the flavor profile of mild dishes, watercress can easily find a spot on your menu. Check out these tips and tricks and see why we’re crushing on cress.

  • Did you know? It’s not called watercress for nothing! The little leafy green is a semiaquatic or aquatic plant, meaning that it spends most of its lifetime exposed to water.
  • When selecting watercress, look for ones that have crisp green leaves, clean stalks, and don’t feel “slimy” to the touch. Also, make sure your supplier is exposing it to water; no one wants dried out watercress.
  • Due to its high water content, watercress is highly perishable and usually only lasts a few days before spoiling. Interestingly enough, you can store the greens much like you would fresh flowers. For best results, refrigerate the stems in cold water, cover the tops, and drain before handling. 
  • Although watercress is generally served raw, it’s still a good option to use in cooked dishes. Similar to its botanical relative, mustard, watercress will mellow out in flavor and decrease in size when cooked, so plan accordingly. 
    • Pro Tip: Not sure where to start? Try substituting watercress for sautéed kale or bake it on top of a Margherita pizza!
  • Watercress may just be the most covert “superfood” of them all. Aside from being low in fat, carbs, and calories, watercress is a particularly rich source of fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. It even has a higher vitamin C content than oranges! Get ahead of the game and start serving the superfood “before it was cool.” 
  • In terms of pairing ingredients, watercress plays particularly nice with mellow meats like chicken or fish as well as fresh citrus and spicy herbs.