Watercress is related to mustard, and as such has a fresh, bitingly peppery taste that can be quite bracing if one is expecting this little green to yield a more mild tone.
Its refreshing flavour makes it the perfect foil for smoked fish and rich meats. As it contrasts well with the earthy richness of beef, Richard Corrigan uses watercress purée as a base for his grilled rib-eye steak recipe, while Adam Simmonds uses a watercress and nastertium purée to support his beef fillet recipe with bone marrow and red wine.
Lighter foods also do well with the distinctive taste of watercress. Chicken and watercress go well together, particularly when accompanying a creamy risotto, such as Adam Gray's chicken and watercress risotto. Watercress adds an exquisite touch to salads, punctuating other components with its pungent flavour, such as in Tom Aikens' poached salmon with watercress.
Finally, watercress can come into its own as a soup as vivid in the bowl as it is on the palette. Nathan Outlaw presents his watercress soup recipe with traditional British Cheddar toasties, while Shaun Rankin gives his chilled watercress soup a fresh take, using Asian pear and fresh peas for a very special summer dish.