Similar in flavor and appearance to watercress, field cress is a wilder cousin that grows across the Southeastern United States. It's more strongly flavored than its cousin and has a slightly peppery taste. If you don't have access to wild cress, look for the leafy, green vegetable at farmer's markets and specialty markets. Also known as "creasy greens" or "upland cress," field cress can be substituted for watercress, spinach or other tender greens.
Things You'll Need
- Saucepan with lid
- Steamer basket or colander
- Cooking oil
- Microwave-safe dish
- Wax paper or microwave-safe plastic wrap
Preparing Field Cress
Shake out loose dirt, then trim the tough stems from the cress.
Place the cress in a bowl of lukewarm water. Stir the water gently with your hands to loosen sand and grit, then lift out the cress and pour out the water.
Fill the bowl with fresh water and rinse the cress again. Continue to rinse the cress until no grit appears at the bottom of the bowl.
Steam, Saute or Microwave
To steam field cress, place a small amount of water in a large saucepan. Turn the heat on high and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low so the water simmers. Put the washed field cress in a steamer basket or colander, then place the basket in the saucepan with the bottom of the steamer above the simmering water. Cover the pan and steam the cress until the leaves are tender -- usually about 3 to 5 minutes.
Saute field cress in a skillet with a small amount of hot cooking oil, using approximately 1 teaspoon of oil for every 3 cups of cress. Saute the cress at medium-high for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. You can also saute the cress in a small amount of hot chicken or vegetable broth.
Microwave damp field cress in a microwave-safe dish with no additional liquid. Cover the dish loosely with wax paper or microwave-safe plastic wrap and cook the cress for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the leaves are tender.
Tips & Warnings
- Wrap unwashed cress loosely in damp paper towels and store the cress in your refrigerator's crisper drawer. Cress is highly perishable and keeps for no longer than three or four days. Don't wash the cress until you're ready to use it; damp leaves deteriorate quickly.
- Wild cress is a tasty substitute for collard greens when cooked with ham hocks. You can also add cress to omelets or quiche.
- If you forage for wild field cress, be sure the cress hasn't been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
- Never forage for field cress on private or public land without permission.