Monday, March 17, 2008

Superfood #2: Watercress

I've already posted about one wild superfood, stinging nettles. Here's another: watercress. Besides being really tasty and good for you to boot, watercress is available nearly year-round in much of its range. It's one of the few greens you can gather in January in these parts. By late winter or early spring it kicks into gear and becomes prolific in some places. I harvested the above watercress from a clean mountain stream while hunting for truffles the other day. The elk prints all over the banks made it clear that I was not the only mammal eager for a crisp, fresh salad.

Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Pancetta, and Wilted Watercress

2 oz. pancetta, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb gnocchi
4 oz watercress, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (6 cups packed—but you can make do with half that amount)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pancetta over medium heat in skillet until it begins to brown. Add garlic, stirring for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, sugar, and crushed red pepper, stirring until tomatoes are almost completely broken down, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and salt. Remove from heat.
2. Boil gnocchi until they float, 3 to 5 minutes (or according to package instructions). Place watercress in colander and drain gnocchi over watercress, wilting it slightly. Add gnocchi and watercress to sauce in pan; toss. Serve immediately with Parmesan. Makes 4 servings of about 1 cup each.

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