There are more then a dozen types of cress. The most familiar is the mild watercress. This week Farmer Ray brings us curly cress aka garden cress or peppergrass, a deeply cut, lacy-looking herb. In India it is called chandrashoor.
The word cress is derived from old German—“cresso” means sharp, spicy. Although cress is considered an herb, it is genetically related to mustard, which is a “green”. It is harvested spring and fall. Raw cress is high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as several minerals, and is prized for its medicinal qualities.
Cress seeds, called “haloon,” are common in Indian cooking. Indian cooks use them in paratha, and in a sweet, Halim Ladoo, mixing the seeds with coconut and almonds. A common use of the seed on the Arabian Peninsula is to mix them with custard made of milk, saffron, and cardamom into a hot drink called Haba Al Hamra. Used medicinally it’s called “asario” in India and “hamra” (red seeds) in Arabic.
What to do with your Cress
Curly Cress is most often eaten: tossed in to salads, as a sandwich green, chopped and added to omelets and egg salad. It can be added it to stir-fry or coconut rice, and tucked into sushi. It makes an unusually flavored pesto. It is an excellent addition chopped into mashed potatoes or dumplings. Sauté cress in butter for 10 min for a delicious side dish.
What else can you do with your Cress: RECIPES
Curly Cress and Orange Salad
In a bowl combine Curly Cress and fresh orange slices in amounts that make a balance that appeals to you. In a separate bowl mix together olive oil, orange and lemon juices, salt. Whisk together and pour over the salad.
Wild Rice Salad
- 100g/3½oz broad beans, podded
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- pinch chili flakes
- 175g/6ozwild rice, cooked according to instructions
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed, sliced
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 4 radishes, sliced
- 2-3 handfuls curly cress
1. Cook the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from each bean, use your nail to slit the skin, then pop out the bright green bean.
2. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and chili flakes together in a bowl and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Mix the wild rice, broad beans, avocado, spring onions and radishes together in a bowl, add the dressing and toss gently. Add the micro cress, give the salad one further toss and serve.
A nice addition is to serve with chicken or char-grilled haloumi.
Curly Cress and Potato Soup
- 13 oz potatoes
- 3.9 oz onion
- 1 tsp Sunflower oil (other nut oils could be substituted)
- 600 ml (approx 2.25 C) of water, more as needed
- 2 2/3 oz Curly Cress chopped
- 1 dash salt
- 7/8 oz Curly Cress
1. Chop potatoes and onion. In a saucepan, heat oil and add potatoes and onion, stirring frequent until tender, translucent, and a little dry.
2. Pour the water over the potatoes and onions and cook until tender adding more water as needed for soup consistency desired. (Remember, you will be adding the cress.) Cook approx 15 min.
3. Add the chopped cress and purée. Start with no more than a cup and add more—up to 2 cups-to taste.
4. Season with salt. Garnish with more cress. Can be served hot or cold.