Thursday, March 24, 2011
Upland Cress- When You Just Need Something Green
This weekend my mom mentioned to me that the lemons in my previous post were very pretty, but she was a little tired of looking at them. I guess it has been a while since I last posted. Hopefully I'm over my late-winter slump and along with the promise of spring and warmer weather will come bounds of energy and inspiration. One inspiring thing that I did find this weekend were these gorgeous cresses.
If you're from the south, you're probably no stranger to upland or field cress, sometimes known as "creasy greens." A harbinger of spring, cress is usually one of the first things to appear in the garden. With rosettes of tender green leaves and a peppery flavor, I've always considered them a spring tonic. They are what first comes to mind when I'm craving something fresh and green this time of year! They're chock full of phytonutrients, have three times the vitamin C of oranges and twice as much vitamin A as broccoli!
I cooked this "mess of greens" the good old southern way, which means I boiled them until tender with a ham hock in enough water to cover them, added a bit of salt and pepper, and served them with cornbread. Since I had nearly a bushel of them, I also cooked some in an omelet, sauteed some with a little garlic and olive oil, and tossed some with some homemade pasta with a creamy ricotta sauce. The raw peppery leaves are also a great flavorful addition to a salad, as long as your cress is fresh and tender.
I remember when I was young my dad would pick cresses in corn fields where they grew wild. With the advent of weed killers being used in corn fields though, wild cress has almost disappeared. Thankfully the seed is available and easily grown. I raided my brother's field for this beautiful basketful, but if you're not lucky enough to have a brother with a field of cress they will most likely be found in your early spring CSA box or at a local farmer's market. I hope you find some!
This post is being shared with Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage.