National Watercress Week (until May 24) celebrates a truly British and seasonal arrival, up there with the likes of asparagus.
These sprigs of shiny round leaves on thick peppery stalks grown in mineral-rich spring water beds are great in salads, sandwiches, chopped in sauces or soups or used as a garnish for fish dishes.
This week around Arlesford, in Hampshire, there will be free farm tours and special menus at pubs and restaurants. (watercress.co.uk)
For an ultra healthy start to the day try a Champneys’ watercress, apple and kiwi fresh juice or a Virgin Mary made with a blend of watercress (100g pack), 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 400ml good quality tomato juice seasoned with tabasco sauce to taste.
For a simple watercress soup, soften a chopped onion and a chopped potato in butter. Add 2 chopped bunches of watercress with 4 parsley stalks, and a light stock. Season. Simmer until tender. Puree. Thin with milk. Reheat or chill.
To make a watercress pesto, fill your blender with a bunch of watercress, a handful of basil leaves, a clove of garlic, a handful of toasted pine nuts, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and generous shavings of parmesan. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, whizz everything together, then stir into a bowl of pasta.