Long relegated to dainty English tea sandwiches, innocuous garnishes, and the like, watercress can withstand a bit rougher treatment. The crisp, pungent member of the mustard family grows in cool running water and is packed with enough vitamins and minerals to give spinach a run for its beta-carotene money. The resemblance doesn’t stop there, as this cooked-greens recipe from Compass chef John Fraser proves.
John Fraser’s Wilted-Watercress Salad With Bread and Pancetta
1/2-inch-thick slice pancetta
2 shallots, sliced
2 slices day-old French or peasant bread, roughly cut into long, thick strips
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 bunches watercress, thick stems removed
Salt and pepper
(1) Dice pancetta, and render
it in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove pancetta from pan, and add shallots and bread.
(2) Stir frequently until shallots are wilted but still crunchy and bread gets a toasty edge. Turn heat to high, and deglaze the pan with vinegar.
(3) Add watercress, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and cook until slightly wilted.