Watercress is just the green you’ve been looking for to perk up your next salad. Peppery and pleasantly bitter, watercress can add bold flavor to your regular bowl of greens and can also be the key ingredient in a killer salad dressing. Let this recipe be your inspiration. Watercress adds its peppery kick to both a Fattoush salad recipe of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and toasted pita, and a creamy tahini dressing. Vibrant in color and flavor, it’s a salad that’s perfect for the first tentative days of spring and the hottest days of summer.
Look for seasonal watercress from spring to early fall. The two varieties of cress you’re most likely to spot at markets are regular watercress and upland cress. Hydroponically grown upland cress (with roots still attached) is sold year round.
Although they look slightly different, both regular and upland watercress have the same pungent, peppery flavor. The stems of both types of watercress are edible, although the thicker the stem, the tougher the texture. Also, the long, thin stems can be a bit unwieldy to eat; for a salad, finely chopping the stems can make for easier eating.
So next time you’re at the market, toss some watercress in your bag. Not only to make this delicious salad, but also because watercress is a superfood you shouldn’t pass up.
Watercress Fattoush Salad with Creamy Watercress Tahini Dressing Recipe
3 pita breads
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches of watercress, roots and/or thick stems trimmed off
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound cherry tomatoes cut in half, or chopped heirloom tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced into rounds
1/2 a red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly torn fresh mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the pita bread into thin triangles or bite-sized squares. Use your hands to toss the bread with the olive oil until the pita is well coated. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and toast for 15 to 20 minutes until the pitas are golden and crispy. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend 1 cup of packed watercress leaves, plus the parsley, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Thin with water as needed – 3 tablespoons is about right. Process for several minutes, until the herbs and watercress are very finely chopped and the dressing is well-blended and smooth.
In a large bowl toss the remaining watercress with the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and mint. Massage the dressing into the salad with your hands, breaking up the tomatoes and really melding all the flavors. Season with sea salt to taste. Add the toasted pita to the salad bowl or serve on the side as a garnish.
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Images: Jennifer Meier