Cress and Arugula (Spicy Greens)
HERBS 'N SPICES: CRESS
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.