Unbeknownst to many of us, watercress is a silent superstar when it comes to nutritional value. In fact, this leafy, peppery green has a nutrient density score of 100, with well-known winners such as broccoli and carrots trailing far behind with scores of 35 and 23, respectively. The study that was conducted to achieve these results was based on the amount of 17 essential, naturally occurring nutrients in a single 100 calorie serving, namely iron, calcium, fibre, protein, potassium, Vitamin A, B12 and D.
Needless to say, watercress is a wonderful addition to your spring garden, and can be planted with ease to be used in a number of delicious recipes!
How to Grow Watercress:
Step 1: Purchase watercress seeds or fresh bunch from your local Farmers’ Market. Watercress can be transplanted, but roots should first be soaked to promote growth.
Step 2: Place a layer of landscaper’s cloth at the bottom of a large planter with drainage holes that is at least 6 inches (15.2 cm) deep. For better drainage, add pebbles to the bottom of the container.
Step 3: Making sure the plants are well watered is essential (hence the name), so place another drainage tray underneath the container to ensure optimal moisture.
Step 4: Fill planter with a soilless potting mix that that drains well and contains peat moss and perlite or vermiculite.
Step 5: Sow seeds ¼ deep in the mix, 3-4 inches apart.
Note: Watercress should be watered heavily! Potting mix should be soaked so that water fills drainage container half-way. The watercress should see 6 hours of sunlight a day, but is fragile, so should be placed in indirect sunlight.
Once your Watercress is grown, this nutrient-rich super-green is a flavourful addition to many recipes, such as this one:
Beet and Watercress Salad with Farm Eggs
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lb. baby beets
6 to 8 organic eggs
Sea salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
4 oz. watercress, tough stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Trim root and stem ends from beets & wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until easily pierced with a sharp knife, 45 mins – 1 hour. Unwrap and let cool. Gently peel the beets with your fingers or a paring knife. Cut into quarters and put in a small bowl.
Place eggs in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover and let stand until eggs are done:10 mins for slightly runny yolks, 14 minutes for firm yolks.
Drain eggs, transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool slightly, about 2 mins. Peel eggs and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Sprinkle each quarter lightly with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, orange zest and the 1/2 tsp. salt to make a dressing. Pour half of the dressing over the beets and stir to coat. In another large bowl, combine the watercress and the remaining dressing and toss to coat.
Mound the watercress on individual plates or on a large platter and top with the beets. Arrange the egg quarters around the beets and drizzle with any dressing left behind in the watercress bowl. Sprinkle with a few grindings of pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4.