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Story - Food

Apr 29, 2019 4:38 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Discover The Delicious Wonders Of Watercress

Apr 30, 2019 11:24 AM

Watercress is spicy, it perks up the palate and speeds up digestion. Watercress also packs a ton of nutrients (vitamin C, folate, calcium, beta-carotene, vitamin B1) and one cup is merely five calories! Scientists believe watercress boosts neuron activity to enhance brain function. It’s no wonder the Romans fed their soldiers watercress as soon as it was available. It grows naturally in the wild along streams of running, natural spring water.

“Upland Cress,” which has more delicate stems and leaves than year-round watercress, is available right now in the produce section of most grocery stores.

This power watercress and avocado salad is not your average bowl of greens: It’s packed with color, crunch and also delivers a boost of protein to keep you strong and satiated all afternoon. It’s perfect for a weekend lunch.

Right now wild ramps are in the farmers markets. Look for very thin white bottoms with beautiful unblemished edible green leaves. Store them in the refrigerator. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Because ramps are milder than scallions or leeks, don’t hesitate to double the amount in a recipe. Just before cooking, cut off the roots, pull off the first thin outer “skin” layer of the white part, but keep the leaves attached. Wash the ramps thoroughly under cold running water, shake well to remove all the sand, and rinse well. With a paper towel, gently dab off the excess water on the ramps before using. Make this medley of ramps, mushrooms, and tiny peas as a side dish for dinner this evening. Add this ramp vinaigrette to your salad dressing repertoire. Remember, you can substitute ramps in any recipe that calls for scallions. Bon appétit!

Wild Ramp Vinaigrette(Makes about 1 cup)2 or 3 wild ramps, roots trimmed and washed, patted dry

1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

About 1/2 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional, pinch of sugar or 1/2 teaspoon clover honey

Splash of fresh lemon juiceTo prepare:Cut the ramps into 1/4-inch slices, place in a mini chop, and briefly chop.

Add mustard and vinegar and process until evenly chopped.

With the motor running, add olive oil through the feeding tube until the mixture becomes an emulsion.

Taste, add salt, pepper, honey, and lemon juice according to personal preference.

Spoon over vegetables or salad greens.Power Watercress and Avocado Salad(Serves 4 as a main course)1 to 2 bunches bunch watercress, washed and spun dry, tough stems discarded (about 4 to 5 cups)

1 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/2 cup pitted green Castelvetrano olives, halved lengthwise

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, washed and halved lengthwise

2/3 cup grape tomatoes, washed and halved lengthwise

1 large ripe avocado, chopped

Fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 cup) for rolling the avocado

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and quartered or cut into sixths

1/2 cup chopped pistachios, lightly salted

Optional: 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame or fava beansFor the dressing:2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Juice of half a lemon or more to taste

4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or more as needed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon honeyTo prepare:In a salad bowl, add onion, olives, tomatoes, and edamame, if using.

Cut avocado into small bite-sized chunks and roll in lemon juice to prevent discoloration and add avocado to the tomatoes.

Transfer the lemon juice to a small bowl. With a whisk, stir vinegar and mustard with the lemon juice and honey, then add the oil in a slow stream, whisking continuously until emulsified. Season to taste.

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the dressing on the onion mixture. Set the remaining dressing aside.

Discard the tough watercress stems and add small stems with leaves of the watercress on top of the vegetables in the bowl.To serve:Sprinkle a bit of coarse salt on the watercress, then toss, lightly bringing the dressing up from the bottom of the bowl. Add more dressing only if necessary to just coat the greens.

Arrange on salad plates, garnish with cooked eggs and sprinkle with toasted pistachios.

Serve at once and pass extra dressing at the table. Serve with hot crusty whole grain bread.Medley of Ramps, Mushrooms and Petit Pois(Serves 4)Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing

2 bunches wild ramps, washed and roots removed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 to 8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups extra fancy petit pois, defrosted

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable stock or waterTo prepare:In a medium skillet over moderate high heat, coat the bottom of the pan with oil, add the ramps and a pinch of salt and sauté until the leaves wilt and turn brown on the edges and the white parts are tender, about 3 minutes. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the ramp.

Transfer the ramps to a side dish and keep warm.

Increase the heat to high, add the mushrooms and salt, add more oil if necessary, and shake the pan constantly or stir-fry until the mushrooms are golden brown about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the peas, red pepper flakes and gently stir.

Return the ramps with the accumulated juices in the dish. Moisten with stock or water if necessary, and sauté until the vegetables are tender and hot.

Taste and adjust the seasonings and serve at once.

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