Cress and Arugula (Spicy Greens)



Cress can be considered an herb, as well as a green. It becomes a little confusing since the name "cress" actually refers to many greens, that can be used in the same way, and all have a similar peppery tang. This includes watercress, Indian cress, garden cress, winter cress, peppergrass, upland cress, bitter cress, rock cress, meadow cress, dry land cress, broadleaf cress, penny cress, stone cress, wart cress, Virginia cress, pepperwort, broadleaf cress and cressida. Confusing isn't it?

All types of crest have a peppery radish type flavor. For the most part all of these greens grow quickly and are harvested fresh and when they are very young. Some come up in just a week! You can interchange these cresses in recipes. Try adding cress to salads, cottage cheese, egg dishes, tomatoes, potatoes and sandwiches. 

Use cress in place of parsley in recipes--though it will be a little spicier. Some people do experience indigestion from too much cress, so use it sparingly at first until you become accustomed to it.

Cool weather is the time to grow cress--try it this fall. Plant it in pots, in windowboxes or porch containers. Sow seeds a week apart so you'll be able to pick the second batch as the first one is growing back. You can harvest cress by snipping it, and it will grow back 3 or 4 times to harvest again. Keep the soil moist, and keep out of direct, hot sun. Pick it as you want to use it. It will last a couple of days in the refrigerator, but is better fresh. The following recipes will give you some ideas for using cress.

Feta, Pear, and Watercress Salad


  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed trimmed cress
  • 1/2 cup red pear, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or herbal vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or hearty mustard
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/8 tsp. dried oregano

Divide leaf greens, watercress, and pear between 2 plates. Sprinkle with the cheese. Combine vinegar, water, oil, garlic, mustard and oregano in a bowl, and stir well. Drizzle evenly over salads. Makes 2 servings.

Zucchini Cress Soup


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup cress leaves, washed
  • 1/2 cup peeled, chopped potato
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce--or to taste
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter or use oil and sauté the onion until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, zucchini, cress, potato, parsley, and Tabasco sauce, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until the potato is tender. Cool. Puree the soup in batches using a blender or food processor. Chill. Serve with yogurt or sour cream.

Mint and Cress Salad


  • 2 cups fresh, rinsed and dried cress
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce or mixed greens
  • 1 cup radishes
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup herb or wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Chop the cress and romaine and set aside in a salad bowl. Thinly slice the radishes and the green onions. Finely chop the mint and place in a jar. Add the remaining ingredients and shake until well blended. Toss salad with dressing and allow to stand 10 minutes. Ross again right before serving.

6 servings.

Cress Dressing


  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. herb or wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cress leaves, finely chopped

Combine the lemon juice, vinegar and salt in small mixing bowl. Whisk to mix, gradually adding olive oil until it's worked in. Whisk in the pepper to taste and stir in chopped water cress. Serve over greens.

White Bean Soup


  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2-3 leeks, rinsed well, chopped (white only)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 15-oz. can white beans (Great Northern or navy), drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup evaporated regular or skim milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh cress, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • White pepper to taste

In large soup pan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, leeks and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add beans, potatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of thyme and 1 1/2 cups broth; simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and purée in blender or food processor.

When smooth, return to saucepan and add remaining broth and milk. Heat until warmed again. Add more water or broth if it needs to be thinned. Before serving, stir in chopped cress, lemon juice, salt, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme.


Arugula: A Cool Weather Favorite!
By Brenda Hyde

Arugula is similar to spinach, and can be grow throughout the summer, plus inside as well. It's a strong tasting green that can be added to your salads, and it loves cool weather. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch apart to start and in about three weeks you can thin the plants to one inch and use them in your salads! You can begin harvesting the remaining plants when they are about 4 inches high. This is one of those herbs that you want to keep cutting, so it will stay tender! Try this same method but use a small windowbox for indoors.

Asparagus and Arugula Salad

1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 cups arugula
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese (1/2 lb.), shaved or shredded

Season with salt and pepper and steam or microwave until just tender-not mushy. Set aside. Meanwhile, clean arugula and remove excess stems; dry and set aside. Just before serving prepare the dressing by combining the juices of lemon with remaining olive oil, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. While asparagus is warm, toss with argula. Divide among 4 plates and top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Corn and Arugula Salad

1 large red bell pepper
1 tomato, cored, diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. herb or wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. herb or wine vinegar
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked, cleaned
1/4 pound arugula, torn, washed (8 cups)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
6 tbsp. coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
In blender, whirl all ingredients for the dressing until emulsified. With a rubber spatula, scrape through sieve set over small bowl, to remove seeds and skin. (You can also carefully remove these with a small slotted spoon. Set aside dressing. For the salad, whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well blended. Cook corn in boiling water for about 4 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. Scrape the kernels from cobs into bowl with oil mixture; add remaining salad ingredients. Toss to coat all ingredients evenly. To serve, pour 1/4 cup vinaigrette around base of each of 4 plates. Top with salad. Garnish with olives if desired. Makes 4 servings.


From Brenda Hyde, owner of Old Fashioned Visit her for more tips, recipes and crafts. Sign up for her free newsletters here: