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Watercress are fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plants native from Europe to central Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. These plants are members of the Family Brassicaceae or cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress and mustard - all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor. The hollow stems of watercress are floating and the leaves are pinnately compound.
Chopped watercress- Watercress should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Put the washed leaves on a chopping board and chop them in small 1-2 inch sized pieces.
Shredded watercress- the leaves can be shredded coarsely in a shredded or manually, using a sharp knife. Cut the greens in thin slices and then break up the pieces in shreds using fingers. Shredded cress is used as a garnish , in coleslaws or merely to reduce the cooking time.
Torn watercress-Remove the leaves from the stalks and tear them roughly with your hands in small pieces. The torn cress are usually used for blanching or as a base for salad basket.
How to select
Like many plants in this family, the foliage of watercress becomes bitter when the plants begin producing. In recent years, watercress has become more widely available being stocked pre-packed in some supermarkets, as well as fresh by the bunch at farmers' markets and greengrocers.
When you select watercress in the store, look for a firm green leaves which has no slime or areas of discoloration. They should be displayed in a chilled section in the refrigerator case to prevent them from wilting and becoming bitter.
" Watercress is one of the main ingredients in V8 Vegetable Juice.
" Watercress is often used in sandwiches served during afternoon tea time .
" Known for its peppery taste, watercress is used as a green and as a garnish.
" It is often used to spice up sandwiches and appears frequently in salads, where it is usually combined with some vegetable or greens having a milder flavor or with citrus fruit.
" It can also be wilted and served as a green, used to season dumplings or savory mousse, or serve as an ingredient in soups ranging from Chinese watercress soup to cold cream of watercress soup to potato, leek, watercress soup
" Use lightly steamed, cooled and chopped watercress as a filling in your sushi vegetable rolls.
" Healthy sauté watercress with tofu, garlic and crushed chili peppers for a meal that will definitely add spice to your life.
How to store
They should be stored in the refrigerator, but not for too long. Keep unwashed watercress in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. They should be placed in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for three to five days, but the sooner they are eaten, the better they will taste.
" Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C
" Many benefits from eating watercress are claimed, such as that it acts as a stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid. It also appears to have cancer-suppressing properties
" Due to its high iodine content, watercress has a strengthening effect on the thyroid gland , thus beneficial for suffers of hypothyroidism.