I fondly remember the times when I would visit my maternal grandparents. I would stay with them for days at a time. They live in the wooded mountains of Mexico, far away enough from the city. They lovingly care for a bountiful orchard that consists vastly of pears, quinces, apples, peaches, and plumbs. I remember waking up early in the morning and seeing my grandmother or my uncle making their way back to the house with a pail of fresh warm milk. I knew that meant breakfast was getting started so I would run out to fetch some eggs and take them to her. My grandparents always knew how to make me feel safe, loved, and they made the best out of anything. If I would hear a strange sound, they would tell me epic stories that would make perfect sense in the creative mind of a child. I remember being scared of the dark and it would take a bit of time for me to get used to not being able to flip on a light switch in the evenings so they would comfort me by the warm wood fire and light up a few candles to brighten the room for me. The gentle crackle of the logs burning would soothe away my fears. I loved walking among the giant pine trees and over the thick carpet of pine needles on the ground. I especially loved taking deep breaths and filling my lungs with the fresh and pure air of the woods. I have nothing but wonderful memories about being with my grandparents in that little paradise. It was always difficult to leave and go back home.
Watercress has a very special place in my heart. My cousin and I would run to the creek where wild watercress would grow abundantly in the running water. We gathered handfuls of watercress for grandmother’s refreshing salads. We had fun skipping and hopping from one stone onto the other to avoid getting our shoes wet. Grandmother taught us how to pick the fresh bunches of watercress and then rinse the soil off the leaves and roots in the creek. When we got back to her kitchen, she would pinch off the tender leaves into a bowl and throw out the tougher stems. She would then mix in fresh diced tomatoes, finely diced onion, a minced serrano pepper and seasoned it with lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. These are the ingredients that my memories are made of.
This is how she would prepare it:
First, rinse the watercress and pat it dry. Then pinch off and keep only the leaves and the tender younger stems with the tiny leaves attached to them. Those are okay to eat. Throw out the tougher, longer stems. Place your watercress into a bowl and add diced tomato and onion. If you like a little spice, (I mean aside from the little kick that watercress already has) add a little finely diced serrano or jalapeño pepper depending on the heat level that you’d like. Toss all of the ingredients to mix well, squeeze the juice of one lime and season with kosher salt or ground sea salt to taste.
You can serve this salad along with fish or chicken. You can also just scoop it up with some tortilla chips or…you can have it the way we did: wrapped in a warm tortilla. (Also known as a humble “taco”). Yep, watercress tacos. These are really, really good! Especially if you’re craving something refreshing and light. This salad can complement almost any dish but there are no rules. Do as you wish!
This hydroponically grown watercress doesn’t compare to that one that grew naturally in that running creek at my grandparents ranch but it’s the closest thing to it. I hope that you give this a try. If you’re up to it, leave a comment or send me a message and let me know what you think! Have a beautiful week!