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National Watercress Week


18th-24th May 2014



See also:-    Recipes and Information about Watercress




Although botanically it’s classed as a herb, watercress is probably best known as a salad vegetable and belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Its name is a give-away clue as it’s an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant which naturally grows in profusion near springs and running water such as streams.

One of the oldest known leaf vegetables known to man and can be traced back more than 3,000 years, to the Persians and Ancient Greeks and is native to Europe and central Asia. Not only is it mentioned in Cretan legend where it is said to have been eaten by the god Zeus for fortification, but it has also been well documented certainly as far back as 485BC when Xerxes, a Persian Emperor ordered that his soldiers be given watercress to keep them healthy during their long marches and as a preventative against scurvy and further when Hippocrates is said to have grown watercress for medicinal purposes on the Island of Kos around 400 BC where he founded the first hospital.

The Romans too revered watercress and it is said that Emperors would eat it to enable them to make “bold” decisions. Anglo-Saxons made watercress broth to ‘spring clean’ the blood and it is believed that Irish monks called it “pure foods for sages” and survived for long periods eating only bread and watercress.

Watercress has seen a surge in popularity in the last few years, especially since Liz Hurley (actress) mentioned in 2001 that she relies on watercress to maintain a nutritious diet.  More recently, (February 2007) the results from two years’ research carried out by the University of Ulster showed it to have extraordinary medicinal qualities, in particular relating to the reduction in DNA damage to white blood cells, considered to be an important trigger in the development of cancer.

Furthermore, watercress contains beta-carotene, a host of vitamins (A, C, B1, B6, K and E), iron (more than spinach) , calcium (more than milk), magnesium, manganese, zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, types of carotenoids that act as antioxidants. Add to those the fact that it's low in calories and it's easy to see why it has gained the accolade of being a "super food".

Watercress is used in many cuisines worldwide, from soups to stir fries. It is also often used as a delicious edible garnish to meat, poultry and fish and can be used as a salad ingredient much like lettuce.

You can read more about Watercress on the Watercress Ingredient of the Month  page which also features lots of  recipes.


In the meantime, below is a very simple recipe for a watercress sauce which goes exceptionally well with fish such as salmon as pictured.

Happy Cooking!

Watercress Sauce

Hot Vegetarian Vegetables  Savoury Sauce Accompaniment    Gluten Wheat Free  Eggless







1 Bunch Watercress

240mlg/8oz Natural Yoghurt

1 teasp Lemon Juice

1 teasp Runny Honey

Salt and Black Pepper

Serves 4   Cooking and prep time: 10mins 




1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Reserve 4 sprigs of the watercress for garnish if desired and blanch the remainder in the boiling water for 3 minutes.


2. Remove and drain very well, pressing as much water out as possible.


3. Place the watercress and remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.


8. Transfer the watercress mixture to a saucepan and warm through very gently, stirring and making sure you do not boil it as it will curdle.


Excellent served hot with poached or grilled fish.


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