Growing up, we ate a lot of watercress. A LOT! We lived by a stream and watercress grew wild, and my parents, who had grown up in the mountains in Europe, thought this was like a little taste of home. I remember going for walks with my parents and bringing back a basket of watercress.
My mother prepared watercress many ways, from putting it into soups, to mildly steaming it, but we usually ate it like a salad. And while it was available, we mostly ate watercress as a green until the garden my parents planted produced other greens.
Watercress is one of the first leafy greens eaten by humans, and it is packed full of essential nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. Like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale, when chewed or chopped, watercress releases a variety of phytochemicals that are thought to ward off cancer.
Watercress is uniquely abundant in one in particular antioxidant called phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). Research suggests that PEITC may provide strong protection against cancer by interfering with tumor development.
Luckily for you and me, we don’t have to walk through streams to harvest watercress (though that can be fun, too), as it can be found at many grocers. This salad is an easy way to incorporate the benefits and peppery taste of watercress.
Watercress and Radish Salad
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches watercress, larger stems removed
4 cups mixed baby greens
6 radishes, thinly sliced
For the vinaigrette, combine the mustard, shallots and vinegar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine watercress, baby greens, and radishes in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette.
Photo from here, with thanks.