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You can find watercress, a flavorful leafy green mostly used in soups, salads, in pesto, as well as a garnish but not readily available in all countries. What can you do while preparing any dish that asks for watercress when you are unlucky to get it in your pantry?
Also, the leaves perish sooner, so it must have to be used sooner and fresh. A smarter technique is to use one among many options of substitutes or watercress alternatives, and this post will help you to know more about them.
The plant of watercress belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It has much in similarities to other vegetables like garden cress, wasabi, and radish. Watercress delivers a considerable amount of folic acid, iodine, iron, and calcium. You can also get some omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins such as A, B6, C, and K.
It offers numerous health benefits like cleansing the blood and its soothing peppery taste. E.g., Anglo Saxons and Romans believed that they could help in preventing baldness. Also, as per Victorians, it can cure hiccups, freckles, and toothache.
9 Common Watercress Substitutes
Let us have a quick highlight on the preferable alternatives of watercress;
a) Kale – It is much similar to cabbage and found of different varieties in the market. Kale has many flavors. It is not only a substitute for watercress but is an excellent addition to stews, soups, and salads. It is currently in use in many regions across the world.
b) Endive – The taste of its leaves is a bit bitter, and its plant can be used as cooked or in raw form into our food. You can also use Escarole due to its less bitterness in the flavor. You can also find Belgian endive, and another type of the endive to get some crunchy, tangy, and a slightly bitter taste.
c) Nasturtium Leaves – It comes from an edible plant whose all parts are consumable. The bright colored flowers of the plant can add both distinct flavors and looks to the salads. The leaves are also known as Indian cress and have almost the same pungent, peppery taste like that of watercress.
d) Rocket – It is also known as Arugula, Rucola, or Roquette. Older leaves are used for cooking, and younger leaves are for preparing salads. Not only plant leaves, but seeds and flowers are also edible. Rocket or Arugula tastes like some mustard, peppery, spicy, or pungent flavor. Hence, it is a friendly alternative to watercress.
e) Radicchio – The leaves are red with vein-like white patterns. So after using this as a substitute for watercress, you will see a difference in color. You can find them either in elongated or round shapes. It adds a great flavor to your food, something a mix of bit spicy and bitterness. You can use them as saute in a side dish or as a first course.
f) Dandelion Green – These plants are rich in nutritional value and should be there in our diets. They can supply proteins, minerals, iron, calcium, and a bit of calorie. Almost like other plants, the older are bitter as compared to young leaves with less bitterness. So, you have to use these ingredients carefully and in the right proportion in salads, soups, or stews.
g) Kaiware sprouts (Radish Sprouts) – These are sprouts that are commonly used in Japan to garnish the salads and also to add some taste to them. It also delivers some nutritional value to its consumer. So, you can definitely use it as watercress, especially in sandwiches and salads.
h) Arugula – It is a good option to be used in place of watercress to get a similar mild spicy kick. These are hard leaves to add some of their texture and more intense pepperiness compared to younger leaves. You can also use a few quantities of older leaves or baby leaves to get a milder taste.
i) Spinach – It is an Asian glowering plant with high nutritional value and common in many cuisines. The truth is that it does not taste the same as watercress. But, it can be a great substitute when used in any dish along with pepper to get the desired flavor similar to watercress. To make the taste even more perfect, add few nasturtium leaves with the watercress substitute spinach! Do you remember what the famous cartoon character Popeye use to eat to gain strength?
You can choose anyone from above that is in your reach you prefer the most as a watercress alternative!