What to Do with Watercress

Watercress is a tasty little plant with almost spicy leaves reminiscent of arugula and thin, crunchy stems. We buy our watercress from Butter Valley, which sells hydroponically grown living greens. According to these guys, it is just packed full of nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B17, C, D, E, and K. I just love the fresh taste and the crunch on these late spring days!

You can make watercress sandwiches (like in The Wind in the Willows) by spreading a bit of cream cheese on bread (or toast) and then using the watercress as the filling. You can make a watercress soup as our friends here advise. As for me, I like it in a salad:

Chop watercress coarsely and put in large bowl. Chop fresh cilantro finely and toss in with the watercress. Remove the peels from a couple of oranges, split them into sections, and toss the sections in with the other ingredients. If you are able to eat nuts, add a handful of almonds (whole or slivered). Toss it all together and serve it with some balsamic vinegar on the side, so each person can season it to his own liking. My family loves this particular vinegar, sold in the pretty downtown area of our town as well as online. I highly recommend it as a way to encourage young children to eat greens. A splash of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar is enough to make butterhead lettuce, watercress, or any other fresh, leafy green quite appealing to the under-ten set. Happy crunching!

Vaguely Asian Salad

I can’t claim to have any authentic Asian cuisine at my house, but I do like cabbage and scallions. Here is a quick salad featuring both.

Peel and dice six large carrots and put them in a bowl. Add a rinsed and shredded red cabbage, six diced scallions, one large head of watercress greens (cut into one-inch lengths), and a bunch of cilantro (cut even smaller).

Mix the dressing: one jar of Delouis mayo (imported from France, available on Amazon; expensive, but totally worth it, and SOY-FREE!!), one tablespoon of lime juice, one tablespoon of superfine sugar(you might have it around for making drinks), a shake of dried garlic, a shake of salt, a big shake of cayenne pepper, and a bit of olive oil to make it more runny. Use a whisk until it’s at the proper consistency, and serve it on the side of your awesome salad.

Butterhead Lettuce Makes a Lovely Fall Salad

I get my butterhead lettuce (via Pure Sprouts) from Butter Valley Harvest, which grows its greens hydroponically. They’re crisp and delightful, and they make a great salad. For fall, I like to take a head of butterhead lettuce, tear it apart, and add dried cranberries and white Stilton cheese with dried cranberries embedded in it. Then I toss it with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and sesame oil.

Fattoush!

No recipe today–well, not exactly. I’d like to share a link to someone else’s recipe, which looks like a close approximation of the awesome lunch to which my mom treated me today.

We went to Olive Branch, an amazing Levantine restaurant in South Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), and had chicken fatuche (also spelled fattoush and probably many other ways, in case you’re searching for recipes online). I wondered if I could reproduce the amazing crispiness and juiciness of this traditional dish, and although I haven’t (yet) tried, I have found the recipe I’m going to use. It’s here. The only ingredient that looked tough to obtain is sumac, which I am happy to see that Amazon carries here. I’ll let you know how my Levantine experiment goes in a few days…

Simple Chicken Salad

Occasionally, I’m called upon to bring food to a family gathering. Here is a dish that you can make in advance and then bring in one of these insulated bags to serve cold right away.

Bake 6 pounds of chicken breasts until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees (approximately 90 minutes at 350 degrees, uncovered). When the cooked chicken breasts are cool enough to eat, cut them into chunks about twice what you would consider “bite-sized.” Mix with 2-3 tablespoons of chicken seasonings and mayonnaise (how much you use depends on your taste and how concerned you are about your mayo intake). There you have it!