As soon as the first days of Spring arrive, I am craving a lighter style of food based on vegetables and herbs like watercress, wild garlic, woodruff, sorrel, and asparagus. The moment those hit the grocery stores and farmer markets you can be sure they get a lot of attention in my kitchen.
Although watercress is actually in season from around September until May when it starts to bloom, this vegetables’ peak season really is from March to May and that’s when it is typically sold in local grocery stores and at farmers markets. Thus, March is usually the time when dishes like watercress soup, pesto, and risotto in different variations are on my menu frequently.
If you miss salad being mentioned here, that’s because I am no fan of salad really. But all of the above mentioned vegs really work very well in salads too.
Watercress is looking back at a long history in Europe, but it is not a very common ingredient in today’s cuisine. That’s likely because it is rarely produced in industrial style; watercress grows in shallow rivers and streams and is typically harvested in the wild or cultivated in small style.
Watercress is related to mustard and is one of the strongest tasting salad leaves. It owns its characteristic sharp, radish-like taste to the essential oils and sulphurs in its leaves. These have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, relieve coughs and flu-like infections, and strengthen the immune system.
Did you know, watercress is one of the oldest known leave vegetables eaten by humans?
This super-simple fluffy watercress-ricotta mousse is a fantastic starter for a light Spring menu or likewise perfect for a brunch buffet.
Watercress-Ricotta Mousse Recipe
100 g watercress plus some for garnishing
250 g ricotta
3 sheets gelatin
½ bio lemon
50 ml milk
150 ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon salt
2 pinches of sugar and cayenne pepper
Wash and dry the watercress then pluck of the leaves. Also add a small amount of the stems as they contain the most pungent flavour (optional, depending on how strong you like the watercress flavour to come out).
Soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, add watercress, ricotta, lemon juice, and milk and puree until obtaining a smooth mass. Season with salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper.
Transfer the gelatin in a saucepan without previously wringing it out. Heat to dissolve then add to the watercress mixture.
Whip the cream until stiff, then carefully mix into the watercress mixture.
Fill the mousse in 4 small bowls or glasses and put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Before serving, garnish with some stalks of watercress.