Watercress is widely known for having an incredible spicy flavor. But aside from that, there are a ton of health benefits that people use the food for in various recipes. You can use watercress in various soups, salads, and even as decorations.
Unfortunately, you can’t find watercress just anywhere. So Cook Gem wanted to help you solve this minor problem by providing you with some tasty alternatives that you can use in place of watercress.
This happens to many people when preparing certain recipes. Watercress is nowhere to be found, so you have to get creative in finding viable substitutes. That’s what we did for you, so explore our alternatives and choose the best one for your cooking needs.
What Is Watercress?
In ancient times, people thought that watercress could prevent things like baldness. Not only that, but it was believed that watercress could make freckles disappear, among other marks and blemishes. Watercress has been eaten by people for centuries.
Whether they actually benefited in the ways described above is another matter entirely. But we know today that watercress works well in a variety of recipes thanks to its notable spicy flavor.
So, what exactly is watercress? It is in the cruciferous family, related to other veggies such as radish and mustard. This unique plant is capable of growing rapidly near bodies of water and even on them.
What’s more, watercress grows in vast numbers out in the wild. The plant today is grown commercially so as to meet the increasing demand for it. If it’s not properly harvested, the watercress plants can grow as tall as four feet in height.
What’s more, it’ll produce green and white flowers, making the plant taste far more bitter. But the younger leaves don’t have quite the same bitter taste as matured ones.
There is a slew of benefits in watercress, as it contains a lot of iron, calcium, folic acid, and iodine. It is also very rich in vitamin C, yet it also has other vitamins such as B6, A, and K.
In addition, watercress also has a tiny amount of omega-3. It is said that it also has the properties of purifying blood, which is one of the reasons for its popularity. If you suffer from high blood pressure, it’s important that you add foods to your daily diet that can reduce your blood pressure.
It all starts with eating healthy foods, and watercress certainly fits the bill. But because watercress has a spicy taste, it is favored in numerous recipes.
You can also use it on sandwiches and in soups and salads, or even mixed in with your pesto sauce. It rots prematurely, so it cannot be stored for a very long time. It also needs to be eaten when it is fresh. As such, finding fresh supplies can be an issue. In this case, you can use the alternatives we found below.
Arugula has a spicy, powerful mustard flavor that is very similar to watercress. The leaves are often dark green with deep scores on both sides. Some leaves have full round ends, while others are more pointed. Arugula is often eaten raw as a green salad, but it can also be cooked and eaten in a variety of dishes.
Although arugula often appears in spring salad mixes, it is actually a member of the cabbage and mustard family. This explains its iconic pepper flavor, which is well received by chefs and home chefs alike.
Also known as rocket, rucola, or roquette, this green can be found year-round but is in peak season in early spring and autumn. It is quick and easy to prepare, and although it is more expensive than ordinary lettuce, it is still rather affordable.
If you’re looking to liven up your dishes and change things up from traditional green leafy vegetables, you always eat, use this unique alternative instead. Radicchio resembles lettuce but has red leaves with white veins instead.
It has exactly the same flavor profile of watercress while being both spicy and bitter all at once. If you want to change the appearance of your dishes without changing their taste, radicchio is the alternative to try. It’s perfect in stir-fries and salads, but not so much in soups and stews.
Do you love the taste of watercress? Purslane is a very close substitute in terms of flavor. It has the same mustard-like flavor as watercress, so you’re sure to love it. However, the leaves provide more succulence in each bite, with a bit of juice to complement the taste. And unlike watercress, purslane isn’t dry or as leafy.
But there are some similarities. Purslane is suitable either cooked or raw, just like you get from watercress. You can also put purslane in a soup or stew. And if you want to be sure to get plenty of magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, purslane is a wonderful source of all three.
Kale is an alternative that has a vibrant flavor that watercress can’t offer. However, the nutrition it provides is very beneficial. Kale is actually a very close relative of cabbage, which explains why the two have nearly the same taste.
Please note that kale isn’t very suitable for salads. However, it is quite suitable for stews and soups. A fan favorite is kale chips, allowing you to enjoy delicious snacks without feeling guilty. And the more kale that you add to your meals, the more health benefits you will enjoy.
Never tried this substitute? Then now is the time. You will find the same bitter taste as that found in watercress. Endive resembles that of a small cabbage.
In addition to the slightly bitter taste, endive also provides a crunch and full-bodied flavor, which is perfect for sandwiches and salads that need some extra crunch.
Cook Gem Is Your Source for Substitutes and More
We have many more wonderful food substitutes that are sure to come in handy in your cooking ventures. We also regularly discuss vegan-friendly ingredients and food options to help you maintain your vegan diet.