Wild and Wonderful Watercress

We have the best neighbors! They came to play cards last night…bearing gifts. This.DSC00141
Watercress grows wild in spring branches and streams, and its health benefits seem almost as prolific. Just this week I read that it is one of the best alkaline foods to help in leveling out the body’s acidity. For me, it’s the fresh, peppery taste and the childhood memories of accompanying my dad to the spring on our farm to pick an armload; one of the first signs of the spring season.

Watercress is not the least labor intensive veggie, for sure, because it must be plucked from the water, trimmed, washed, and examined carefully. The early, tenderest plants are best and easiest. Later in the season, you need to look carefully for the little critters water bugs and blood suckers, yes, city folk, leaches. Don’t look at me like that. You eat potatoes, don’t you? And just think of all those wiggly worms crawling around under ground with them. And the beetles.
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I trim the thickest stems off, unless I’m going to chop it finely, and drain it in a colander or pat it dry with paper towels.
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Today, I left the pieces mostly intact and added a bit of torn Romaine leaves. A few thin slices of red onion and some sliced strawberries complete this salad. I dressed it with a tablespoon of mayo mixed with a dash of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, and some poppy seeds.
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Pretty, fresh, healthy, and delicious.

Of course, this may not be is not necessarily my favorite way to eat watercress. No, think oil fat bacon grease. Yep, that may just negate all that alkalinity factor, but here is the recipe for my favorite watercress dish.
1 bunch- 8 to 10 cups- of watercress (washed, drained and chopped coarsely)
6 slices bacon, fried crisp drained and crumbled (reserve bacon grease)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly
Coarse salt

Chop and mix all veggies. Heat baking grease until the smoke alarm goes off very hot. Pour it over the greens and listen to it sizzle. It should be slightly wilted, but still keep some of its integrity. (I know, all the health nuts are thinking I just lost mine with the bacon grease.) Sprinkle in the crumbled bacon and indulge enjoy.

Watercress is wild and wonderful, healthy or not…the choice is yours.

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