I never paid much attention to watercress. For most of my life, it appeared only as an occasional garnish or in a salad in an upscale restaurant. Then one day, wanting something other than broccoli or bok choy, I ordered it as a cooked vegetable at our local Chinese restaurant. I was hooked! Bright green, garlicky, good texture (not mushy) and none of the bitterness of raw watercress – how could I resist? It was so flavorful that I was certain there had to be drawbacks: Surely it must contain MSG to make it taste so good? When I tried to replicate the dish in my kitchen, I was surprised when it was so easy to make. Just some chopped garlic sautéed in oil, a sprinkle of salt, a splash of broth or water and a lot more watercress than you might imagine – it shrinks almost as much as spinach. If you like a hearty helping of greens, plan at least one bunch per person. Leftovers are always welcome in our home – another vegetable for tomorrow that is already prepared.
Watercress is high in vitamins A, C and K among other nutrients and very low in calories (Let me Google that for you). More importantly to a cook, it is one of those green vegetables available at all times of year, especially valuable in winter and early spring when you are tired of kale and cauliflower. This simple recipe is especially delicious with mashed or boiled potatoes.
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 Tablespoon olive, avocado or grapeseed oil
- 1 big pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 2 bunches of watercress, washed and cut in half (or smaller if you prefer more delicate bites)
- 1/4 cup stock or water
Heat a large sauté pan and then add oil.
Add garlic and salt, turn heat to medium and cook about one minute – do not brown.
Add watercress and stir until beginning to change color and wilt.
Add the broth or water and stir occasionally until most of the water has evaporated and the watercress has softened, about 3-4 minutes. Some like it still crisp while others prefer it limp. Try it at various points in cooking the first time you make it until you figure out how you like it prepared. Taste for salt and add more if you feel it needs it.
Feeds 2 (in our home) -4 people as a side dish.