Cresson Toufé — Watercress, Potatoes & Garlic

It's the new year so what better way to kick it off than with some healthy greens.


I love watercress but it's one of those leafy greens that often leaves me wondering what on earth I can do with it (besides making the classic British 'Egg and Cress' sandwich, of course). For those who've never had it, watercress is peppery and earthy with a spicy punch. The little leaves are perfect for sandwiches and salads. It turns out the British are so serious about watercress that The Guardian newspaper felt it was important to set the record straight on its history and cultivation: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/30/seasonal-food-watercress.

In French and Mauritian cooking, 'cresson' or watercress, features in soups and salads fairly regularly throughout the summer and autumn.Today's recipe is my favorite version of cooked watercress, which is quickly sautéed in potatoes and garlic. We usually eat this as an appetizer along with lentils, rice, and some kind of kebab or beef main dish but it's gentle enough to be an accompaniment to any cuisine.


TOP TIP: Like spinach, watercress does that pesky thing of sweating out all its water and losing all its mass when heated. So a large bunch of raw watercress will turn into a medium-to-smallish serving when cooked. So I recommend a massive bunch for this, and any other, cooked watercress recipes.



CRESSON TOUFÉ


Serves 4 as a side dish • two big bunches of watercress (at least 200g)

• olive oil

• one white onion

• three small potatoes (400g)

• 1/4 cup water

• four garlic cloves

• 4cm ginger


This is a quick cook so prep everything beforehand. First, peel three small potatoes and dice them up into small 1cm cubes. Mince up four cloves of garlic and grate 4cm of ginger. Then dice up one white onion.


Heat a pot that has a lid with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ginger and garlic and let the flavors infuse for about 30 seconds before adding the cubed potatoes. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pot and cover it so the potatoes steam. Make sure to check the pot every so often to make sure the water hasn't evaporated. If it has, add more till the potatoes are fork-tender. Since the potatoes are small, this should take between 7-10 minutes.


While the potatoes cook, you can prep the watercress. You could also use this time to hydrate or make a cup of pre-dinner tea.


In a colander, rinse the watercress well under cold water. Watercress is grown in sand so be sure to remove all the grit. Then chop the bunch into thirds. This is just to make it easier to cook and serve.


When the potatoes are done, remove the lid from the pot and add the watercress. The leaves and stems will wilt very quickly. Remove from the heat after 3 minutes and stir in salt and pepper to taste.


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