Saturday, June 14, 2008

W is for Watercress - the nose-twister of the vegetable world

Watercress is the nose-twister of the vegetable world. It is a member of the mustard family and its botanical name is Nasturtium officinale. In Latin this means something that twists or tortures the nostrils. So how do you go about convincing a child that nose-twisting watercress is in fact delicious? Well we went back to an old trick of the Great Big Veg Challenge - quesadillas. The rest of the watercress looked on from its very own throne - a 1920's watercress dish that my husband found in an Oxfam shop a few weeks ago.

Freddie knows all my tricks by now but he is quite happy to go along with it. "I don't really like watercress. It's too peppery. But this is ok because I love quesadillas. And can you put extra pancetta in mine?"

Watercress Quesadillas with Mozzarella and pine nuts or pancetta
To make one quesadilla:
1 tortilla wrap ( try finding the multi grain wraps)
25g watercress
75g mozzarella cheese
15g toasted pine nuts
Cooking spray oil
Salt and pepper to season

OR add 2 slices of cooked pancetta and leave out the pine nuts

Wash and dry the watercress and roughly chop. Toast the pine nuts by heating up a small pan on a medium heat, sprinkle on the pine nuts and stir them around constantly for a minute or so until lightly browned. You won’t need to add any oil to do this. Chop up the mozzarella into thin slices.
Take a large non-stick frying pan. Lightly spray with a little cooking oil. Turn on the hob to a medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, and turn over a few times with a fish slice. It will bubble up slightly. First scatter the mozzarella cheese evenly over the surface of the tortilla. Add the watercress and then the pine nuts. A quesadilla should be quite flat so don’t overdo the filling. Use a fish slice to fold the tortilla in half so that the two edges match up with the filling in the middle. Gently press down so that the melting cheese sticks the tortilla together. Turn over to cook the other side. Don’t let the tortilla burn. Flip it over so that each side becomes a crisp golden brown.


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Help Please to any bakers out there. Can any of you out there point me in the direction of a recipe for watercress biscuits. We have tasted cheese and watercress biscuits at a food fair once but can't find a recipe. Or do any of you know what kind of savoury biscuit recipe we could adapt to add some watercress - a water biscuit recipe or something thicker?


  1. Hmm..not sure about watercress biscuits but I have seen watercress scones being sold at Winchester farmers market. Here's a recipe
    Lots of recipes here too
    but no biscuits!


  2. Watercress! Good stuff there.

    Actually, my trip through England was rather short. Only three days, and that includes the day where all we did was eat breakfast and drive from central London to Gatwick airport to catch our flight back to the U.S. We took a ferry from Caen and landed at Portsmouth (some sort of soccer to-do going on, and the fans were everywhere...) and took a bus to London. Along the way we stopped at Salisbury to see the cathedral. We also drove by Stonehenge. Other than that, I spent my time walking around London and looking at all the museums. They're all free, which is a rare thing to find here in America, so I took advantage of the opportunity. I highly recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kinsington (if you haven't been there already).

    Other than that, my group was in Germany (Berlin), Belgium (Bastogne), and France (Paris and Normandy). We did drive through Luxembourg for about 20 minutes as well. It was a World War II tour from my university, so we mostly followed Allied troop movements, only backwards (west to east) because it's cheaper that way.

    All in all, I think England was my favorite part of the trip, although that may be simply because after almost 2 weeks of travel, it was nice to be in a country where I could communicate with the people (I know only English and Spanish). It's also "the land of my ancestors", so it was interesting to be in parts of London where I knew that once upon a time in the 1400s one of my relatives had lived.

  3. Hi Charlotte,

    I couldn't stop thinking about your quest and eventually wondered if something like this excellent recipe at 101Cookbooks with added steamed watercress (think spinach pasta) might fit the bill. I've never tried this but green pasta is the only way I've ever seen large quantities of fresh greens incorporated into paste. Might be worth a try if you've got some time to play with.

  4. I wonder what watercress pesto would be like? In the meantime quesadillas would do the trick!!

  5. I reckon watercress pesto would be great - I make rocket pesto all the time so imagine it would be not dissimilar. How about burgers with thick watercress pesto and roasted tomatoes (I'm making myself hungry now!)?

    Most of the recipes I see are for salads or of course, soup.

    Ok, just had a dig around...

    cress and pine nut mayonnaise
    watercress pesto
    watercress pancakes
    biscuits (substitute the parsley with cress)

    and i reckon you could do a savoury scone using cress and serve with slathers of roast beef and horseradish sour cream.

  6. Nicole1:09 PM

    I use a watercress pesto to toss thru pasta with crab meat. It simple and yum.

    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 bunch watercress, leaves picked
    100g grated parmesan
    Zest and juice of 2 lime
    4 tbs olive oil
    50g toasted pine nuts
    2/3 cup water

    Place all ingredients in food processor and whiz to a smooth paste. Season to taste. Serves 4.

  7. Loevely idea for the quesidillas, my mouth is watering at the thought of them. Oh I am hungry now1

  8. W is very close to the end - are you going round again?

  9. Charlotte at Great Big Veg Challenge10:17 AM

    Top Veg - I know - its frightening what a long journey we have been on. We are wondering what to do - whether to be alphabetical or be liberated and be seasonal...
    Holler - Quesadillas are superb. Really easy way of delivering vegetables to the children!
    Nicole - Will be trying your pesto tonight. My version was too hot - so trying this out to see if it ius milder. Thankyou!
    Grocer - These recipes are superb. Thank you so much for leaving the link for us to follow. We are intrigued by the mayonnaise - might be nicer - less peppery than a straight pesto. Thank you so much! We will report back to you..

    Bellini V - We loved the Quesadillas. The pesto so far has been a bit too peppery for the children - but we are working on some of the wodnerful ideas suggested in the comment box.

    Cat of Stripes - that is so kind of you. I think this might be a crisper biscuit to try out than the one we attempted. Thank you for your time in tracking it down and sending it to us. We are very grateful!

    Casvelyn - Your holiday sounds fantastic. We live about a mile away from the Victoria and Albert museum and regularly visit. It is a great place - and they offer loads of free art activities for children.

    Michelle - Funnily enough it was in Winchester that we first tasted watercress biscuits. They were delicious. The scones I will try out too - thanks!

  10. OMG - you are having a BOOK PUBLISHED!!!

    Whooppeeeeee for you, congratulations!!!

    This is an example of a person doing something brilliant and admirable getting recognition. I am chuffed as a cheeseburger for you!


    [oh, and I have to say this, I hate auto-launching sound on any site - as i read i might open 10 links and then I have to go through each tab finding the offending cacophony. even if, indeed, it is music i would ordinarily not mind - just feedback, no offense intended. OR i silence my whole laptop and then miss emails (or my turn at scrabble) and wonder why...]

  11. Charlotte at GBVC11:37 AM

    Grocer - I think you re right about the looks like a good idea and then gets REALLY irritating - I may get rid of the sound.
    Thanks for being as chuffed as a cheeseburger. I liek the image!!


We always love to read your comments - thank you