Let’s Spring Into Health with Watercress & Roasted Veggie Salad

 

 

watercress  I happily announce that at long last, spring is upon us! As we move from the cold days of winter to the mild days of spring, we also change our meals from bowls of hearty soups & stews to light, clean, fresh salads loaded with the bounty of fresh produce which spring has to offer. One true gem in the spring line-up of nutritional goodness is watercress. Grown in water, as its name implies, this zesty, sweetly pungent green is the most widely cultivated of the cresses, the common name for more than a dozen small-leafed members of the mustard family. The tasty little leaves are unquestionably a powerhouse of nutrition: Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. It’s also been promoted as a breath freshener, aphrodisiac, blood purifier and diuretic.

Powerful as the plant is nutritionally, I mostly love it for its peppery bite. Though cultivated year-round, watercress is at its best and sweetest right now, before warmer weather brings on bitter-tasting blossoms and tougher stems. You can also find the more piquant wild-harvested variety at farmers’ markets. When selecting watercress, be sure to avoid bunches with dark or moist spots or wilting, yellowed leaves. Wrapped loosely in a tea or paper towel and placed in an open plastic bag, a fresh bunch should last about a week in the refrigerator. When the plant is raw, everything but the very thick stems is tender enough to eat; in cooked dishes, you can use every last, splendid morsel!

Watercress and Roasted Veggie Salad                                                                             watercress salad                

Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower, broccoli, or a mixture of your favorite roasting veggies broken into large pieces
Olive oil, for roasting
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 bunches watercress, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
2/3 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 bunch spinach leaves, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup dried cherries or currants

For the walnut vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons Sherry or balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1/3 cup walnut oil

1. Roast the veggies: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss veggies with oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender and golden, 35-40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces.

2. Meanwhile, whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl, emulsify in a blender or shake in a jar.

3. Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten and flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Bon Appetite!