Whether we like them or not, green leafy vegetables are extremely nutritionally dense and great for the body. Watercress is no exception. So today, I am here to discuss the best watercress substitutes.
While watercress is an extremely nutritionally dense leafy vegetable, it can sometimes be hard to find. There can also be situations where you simply run out of the same. For that, you can easily use a substitute, and this article will help you with the best watercress substitutes.
I am sure you must be wondering, what are the best substitutes for watercress? The best watercress substitutes are arugula, endives, spinach, radish sprouts, dandelion greens, kale, radicchio, collard greens, and beet greens.
Although, before we start discussing the substitutes, let me tell you a little more about the watercress itself. Some information about this leafy vegetable will definitely help you better with picking your substitute.
Quick Peek: Watercress
This section has all the information you need on watercress. You will also get to understand the vegetable, its flavor, texture profile, uses, and nutritional information.
What Is Watercress?
Watercress, also known as yellow cress, is a species of aquatic flowering plant from the cabbage family. The watercress plant is native to Europe and Asia. It has hollow stems that float in the water with small white and green flowers that grow in clusters.
Watercress is regarded as a weed in certain places and an aquatic vegetable in other regions. Watercress has been used for its nutritional benefits for ages. Moreover, in olden times, watercress was believed to cure various diseases.
Describing Watercress: Flavor And Texture
Watercress generally has a crunchy texture. The leaves are dark green, firm, and just a little tough. Even though watercress is an aquatic plant, its leaves have a dry texture and are not slimy. The fresher the plant is, its leaves will be as dry.
When we talk about the flavor of watercress, it has a refreshing taste that is peppery and spicy. The flavor is very intense, similar to other related plants such as mustard and wasabi.
Uses Of Watercress
Being a green leafy vegetable, watercress has various uses. It makes a great addition to salads, especially due to its crunchy texture. Its robust and spicy flavor works well in recipes such as smoothies and soups.
Moreover, the watercress gives a great crunch to sandwiches and makes a good addition to the flavor of various sauces. It can be added to stir-fried dishes and can be used to make pesto in place of basil. It also makes a good addition to various dips.
Watercress On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Being a green leafy vegetable, watercress has a lot of vital nutrients and health benefits attached to it. One cup or 34 grams of raw, chopped watercress has only 3.7 calories with no amount of fat in it. It has carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, and protein.
Watercress is also a great source of vitamins C, K, and A. It has health benefits such as improving eyesight since it is rich in vitamin A.
It also provides a lot of hydration, as watercress has 95% water content. It also helps with weight management and strengthening bones.
Why Use A Substitute For Watercress?
I am sure you must have thought about this by now. Why would you want to use a substitute for a vegetable that is so nutritionally dense? While there are many reasons to use watercress, there are some reasons why you can consider using a substitute for the same.
Watercress can sometimes be hard to find and may not be as readily available as various other leafy vegetables. In a situation like this, if your recipe calls for watercress, you can easily use a substitute for the same that is equally nutritionally dense.
Moreover, watercress does not stay fresh for too long, and it is not advisable to eat stale watercress as it may not taste too good. Hence, if you have run out of fresh watercress, too, you can use a substitute that may have a longer shelf life.
I think I have given you enough information on the watercress. Now, let me take you to the main attraction of this article, the best watercress substitutes!
11 Best Watercress Substitutes
This section has all the best substitutes for watercress. Moreover, you will also understand the nutritional values of these substitutes and how you can use them in place of watercress.
Arugula has a peppery flavor and is very easily available in most stores. Also known by the name rocket, arugula makes a great substitute for watercress in various recipes.
Arugula belongs to the cabbage family and is getting immensely popular lately. It has small leaves that work well in salads and on top of pizzas and pasta. Arugula is also nutritionally dense; however, not as much as watercress.
Arugula, however, contains vital nutrients such as vitamin A and C, along with fiber too. The flavor of arugula gets a little milder. You can use it as a watercress substitute in a standard 1:1 ratio.
2. Nasturtium Leaves
Also known by the name Indian cress, this leafy vegetable has flat and green leaves with a tangy and peppery flavor. It works well as a watercress substitute in various recipes.
All parts of nasturtium leaves are edible. They work extremely well as a substitute for watercress in various recipes such as salads, over pizzas, sandwiches, and in various soups and stews.
Nasturtium leaves are very nutritionally dense, similar to watercress. They are rich in vitamin C, manganese, and flavonoids. You can use them as a substitute for watercress in a standard 1:1 ratio.
Also known by the names endive leaves or endive lettuce, these leaves belong to the chicory family. They have an intense flavor and a crisp texture that works well as a substitute for watercress.
Endives, due to their intense flavor, make a great addition to salads and sandwiches and can also be added to various cooked recipes. However, an important thing to remember with endives is losing a bit of their flavor once cooked.
So, they will taste milder than watercress in various cooked recipes. However, endives are also very nutritionally dense and a great source of vitamins A, E, and potassium. You can use them as a watercress substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Spinach is an extremely versatile leafy vegetable and is very easily available almost everywhere. It works great as a substitute for watercress in certain recipes.
Spinach is a substitute you can consider using if you want to avoid the pungent flavor of watercress. Spinach has a milder flavor; however, it works well in almost any recipe. You can add it to salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, and anything else in between.
Spinach is also nutritionally dense and is a great source of iron and vitamin C. You can use spinach as a watercress substitute in any recipe in a 1:1 ratio. If you want a stronger flavor, you can add some more.
5. Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens have a spicy and peppery flavor that can mimic the flavor of watercress. These leaves work well as a watercress substitute in various recipes, both raw and cooked.
The spicy and savory flavor of dandelion greens is quite unique. They have a mildly bitter flavor in their leaves and stems that generally works well in all recipes. However, similar to various other leafy vegetables, dandelion greens lose some of their flavors once cooked.
Dandelion greens might not be too easily available. Moreover, their shelf life is also low compared to some other leafy greens. So, you might want to use them immediately once you buy them. Use them in a 1:1 ratio.
Purslane has a pepper flavor and a spicy kick, along with a slightly sour and bitter flavor. It is the closest substitute for watercress as far as flavor is concerned.
Purslane can be added to various raw and cooked recipes. The flavor gets a little milder once cooked, but not too much. So, while working in salads, purslane also works well in recipes such as soups and stews.
Purslane is moreover nutritionally dense too. It is a good source of vitamin A, riboflavin, and potassium. You can use it as a substitute for watercress in any recipe in a 1:1 ratio.
Kale is a leafy vegetable from the cabbage family. It has a slightly more bitter and pungent flavor as compared to watercress. However, it works really well as a substitute for the same in various recipes.
Kale is another leafy green that is gaining a lot of popularity in the world, thanks to the health benefits it provides. The flavor of kale is again more pungent when raw and gets milder when cooked.
So, kale works well as a watercress substitute in both raw and cooked recipes. Kale is a great source of many vitamins like A, K, and B6, including minerals such as calcium and copper. Use it as a watercress substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Radicchio is often confused with red cabbage due to its appearance. However, it is a different leafy green with a bitter and spicy taste that works well as a substitute for watercress in various recipes.
Radicchio has a spicy taste that works well in both raw and cooked recipes. It makes a great addition to salads and also in soups and stews, where it will have a milder flavor. However, the bitter taste of radicchio can be a bit too spicy for some.
Radicchio is nutritionally dense and a great source of vitamin K and folates. Radicchio will also add a great zing of color to your dish. Use it as a substitute for watercress in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Collard Greens
Collard greens belong to the cabbage family. They have dark green leaves with a nutty and bitter taste. These leaves work well as a watercress substitute in various recipes.
The stems of collard greens are thick and chewy. Hence they are usually removed before cooking. The leaves are also thicker, so you might want to note that when they are added to raw salads.
The best part about collard greens is that they won’t turn mushy, even if cooked for long. They are moreover nutritionally dense too, similar to watercress. You can use them as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
10. Beet Greens
Beet greens are one of the most nutritionally dense leafy green vegetables. They have a sweeter flavor rather than bitter compared to various other leafy greens. They can work well as a watercress substitute in certain recipes.
Beet greens work really well in salads and stir-fried dishes. They also work well when sauteed with various root vegetables. They can also be paired with various cheeses as they work well with them.
Beet greens are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K and fiber, calcium, potassium, and manganese. So, they will take care of your nutritional requirements too. Use them as a watercress substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
11. Radish Sprouts
Radish sprouts, despite being sprouts, actually work well as a watercress substitute. They have a peppery flavor that works well in most recipes.
Radish sprouts can also be used to substitute for watercress in both raw and cooked recipes. They usually work really well with proteins and various types of seafood. They are also a great addition to vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Radish sprouts again might not be very easily available. They are, however, a great source of various vital nutrients, and if you do get your hands on them, you should go ahead and use them as a watercress substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Short Recap For Best Watercress Substitutes
I am sure you must have gone through the extensive list of substitutes for watercress by now. However, it may be confusing to some as to which one to use in a recipe. For that, I have broken it down further into three categories.
Most Suitable: Nasturtium leaves are the most suitable substitute for watercress.
Easily Available: Spinach, kale, and arugula are the most easily available watercress substitutes.
Best Flavor Profile: Purslane will provide the best flavor profile when used as a substitute for watercress.
I hope this article has helped you find the best watercress substitute for your recipe. While watercress is an extremely nutritionally dense leafy vegetable, it can be difficult to find in certain places.
Saying that all the substitute alternatives given above are very worthy alternatives for watercress. You can pick your substitute based on whether you want to mimic the flavor profile or not. So, I know you will pick something great, and I wish you happy cooking!
How To Substitute The Above Mentioned Ingredients For Watercress
Here is how you can substitute the above mentioned ingredients for watercress
- Nasturtium Leaves
- Dandelion Greens
- Collard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Radish Sprouts
Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe
Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the benefits of watercress?
Watercress has been linked to various health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart disease.
Can you eat watercress everyday?
Yes, watercress can be eaten everyday.
Is watercress good for weight loss?
Watercress is very nutritionally dense and yet low in calories, making it amazing for weight loss.
Is watercress better cooked or raw?
Watercress is more rich in nutrients when raw, hence it is better when eaten raw. However, cooked watercress also is nutritionally dense.
Is watercress good for hair growth?
As it contains vitamin E, watercress is good for hair growth.