Watercress basics

Tip from the test kitchen

Watercress serves as the base for this month's Golden Beet and Potato Salad, but you might find shopping for the peppery greens a bit confusing.

Traditionally, cultivated watercress has been sold in bunches of tough, thick-stemmed sprigs. Only the tender green leaves growing off the stems are really palatable, so this type of cress requires a bit of prep work.

Now many markets are switching over to hydroponic watercress, which is sold with its roots still attached. Kept in water, these greens stay fresh longer. And because the cress is harvested earlier, the stems are tender and edible.

Some argue that traditional watercress has more flavor, but either variety works well in most recipes, including our salad. And given the health benefits of watercress ― it's loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants ― the added convenience of hydroponic greens might well be worth any flavor trade-off.