Watercress Adds A Peppery Flavor Your Mashed Potatoes Need

Bitter greens may be an acquired taste for some, but sneaking them into a decadent and comforting dish of mashed potatoes is a clever way for everyone to enjoy them. Watercress is the perfect leafy green vegetable to enhance your mashed potatoes with an impressive list of nutrients and a delightfully peppery flavor.

A member of the brassica family and close relative of mustard greens, radishes, and wasabi, watercress is a leafy green that's been touted for its health benefits since the time of ancient Greece. Its complete nutrient profile is touted for aiding bone, blood, heart, and immune health. Notwithstanding its health benefits, watercress has a fresh vegetal taste with a noticeably spicy, peppery finish, similar to albeit tamer than the bite you get from other brassicas.

While many recipes use butter or cheese to mask a leafy vegetable's bitterness, watercress delivers a peppery punch that you can use to your advantage with mashed potatoes. The savory earthiness from the potatoes and the ultra-rich heft from butter, milk, or oil pair perfectly with a few grinds of cracked black pepper. Watercress provides that same spicy, peppery finish. Plus, it's as easy to add to your potatoes as cracked pepper — all it takes is a handful of watercress sprinkled and stirred into hot, freshly mashed potatoes to quickly cook the watercress and impart that delicious peppery taste.

How to incorporate watercress into your mashed potatoes

Watercress is a dainty, leafy vegetable with small round leaves lining an edible stem. Like baby spinach or Swiss chard, watercress is delicate and cooks nearly instantly. The leaves will wilt, and the stem will become soft and tender upon adding it to piping hot mashed potatoes. The easiest way to incorporate it into mashed potatoes is to stir it in along with the wet ingredients, like milk and butter.

The pearl-colored mashed potatoes will get a pleasant burst of green along with lovely bites of soft, chewy watercress leaves. That said, you can get as creative and elaborate as you like with watercress mashed potatoes. You can saute the watercress with aromatics like garlic, onions, or leeks before stirring the mixture whole, pureed, or roughly chopped into the mashed potatoes. By sauteing the aromatics with watercress, you'll enhance the peppery flavor with a caramelized sweetness while also providing a more substantial textural contrast.

If you want to enhance the watercress' peppery notes, you can add a spoonful of spicy mustard to your mash. Watercress' spicy finish would also pair well with cheesy mashed potatoes, complementing a range of flavors from sharp cheddar cheese to salty parmesan. It would also taste delicious as a peppery agent in mashed sweet potatoes or a fall-inspired pear and turnip puree.