A member of the brassica or cruciferous family, watercress is one of the oldest leafy vegetables known to be consumed by humans. The “Father of Western Medicine”, famous Greek physician Hippocrates built the worlds first hospital in Kos, Greece next to a stream so that watercress could be grown nearby and be on hand for medical treatments. As this semi aquatic leafy plant carries a bit of a peppery bite (similar to arugula) it comes as no surprise that watercress is related to the mustard, radish and wasabi plants.
Watercress has a significant amount of iron, calcium, iodine, manganese, folic acid, as well as vitamins A, B6, C, K and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s actually high enough in vitamin C that it was suggested as a remedy for scurvy in the 16th & 17th centuries by English military surgeon John Woodall! Some claim that watercress makes for an effective diuretic, digestive aid, aphrodisiac, hangover cure, expectorant & stimulant. It also has some cancer suppressing properties, especially to do with lung cancer. Both the foliage and sprouts are tasty in salads, sandwiches and wraps, in scrambled eggs, dips so pick some up at your grocery store and look for it at our downtown farmers market (behind the Keg) this weekend.
Try this Potato & Leek Galette from MarthaStuart.com with what you pick up at the market!
1 large russet potato, peeled and grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise and rinsed well
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup watercress, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Place potato in a bowl of cold water, and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain well in a salad spinner or squeeze in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water. Combine potato, leek, flour, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scatter potato mixture in skillet, and press lightly with a spatula to make sure it holds together. Cook until underside is golden, about 6 minutes. Flip. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook until underside is golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn out galette. Toss watercress with lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and place on top of galette. Slice into 8 wedges.
Be sure to scope out this great recipe too!