FG’s cookery editor Leah Byrom on the wonder that is watercress and all things Spring
After the initial foolery of April 1, and with two brothers there is always something among our family, comes the excitement of spring.
The clocks have gone back, the cherry blossom has popped out, the farm animals are out at grass, there is an eternal hope the weather will continue to get better and then there is all the beautiful spring produce coming into season.
With this in mind, I have themed this month’s recipes on the much-hailed superfood which is watercress.
To me, even the word ’watercress’ sounds like a strong and mighty word and that is even before its peppery flavour has been enjoyed.
Its natural pepperiness comes from the beautiful green leaves, which, when eaten, release its mustard oils. Watercress has always been popular; being the original superfood as it is exceedingly high in vitamin C, calcium folate and iron, it is no wonder why. It is even reported Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, located his first hospital in close proximity to a stream in order to always have the freshest supply of watercress at his disposal for his patients.
Later on in 1865, the Watercress Line; a 10-mile now heritage steam railway, was so named as it was used to connect the watercress growers of Hampshire to the markets in London. The line is now enjoyed as a gastronomic tourist attraction.
I love how you can just have a simple bunch of this beautiful green leafy vegetable lurking in the fridge at the ready to add some serious flavour to so many dishes. I always keep the bunch tied with an elastic band with the bottoms wrapped in wet kitchen paper for maximum freshness and store in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.
Then I can use it to cram into a sandwich, blitzed in a pesto or sauce, simply wilted down as a side dish or in stir fried vegetables. Use it amongst a medley of other spring greens or simply enjoy it raw on the side of a delicious supper or to perk up breakfast.
When it comes to dressing raw watercress however, I always use a good fruity olive oil, nothing too peppery. And if it is particularly strong watercress I will sometimes mix a small amount of runny honey into some seasoned oil to dress it up with.
And for those which gave up chocolate for lent…it is time to enjoy an abundance of chocolate recipes. This marble cake is one of my favourites, nicely rich, looks super when it is sliced into and also keeps quite well in a cake tin for a few days. It is a nice sweet note to finish any day of the week.