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Ditch the Cress: 5 Fresh Substitutes for Watercress

Say goodbye to monotonous salads! Elevating your green game is easier than you think.

Watercress isn’t your cup of tea or nowhere to be found in your local grocery store. That’s where this guide comes in, offering fresh, vibrant alternatives that promise to shake up your salad routine.

From peppery punches to mild, sweet flavors, we’re covering a spectrum that guarantees to match whatever dish you’re dreaming up.

Ready to explore? Your salads are about to get a major upgrade; trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

1 – Arugula

Ah, arugula, the zesty little leaf that could! It’s peppery, punchy, and perfect for giving your salads a kick without watercress.

Why choose arugula? It’s got personality! Plus, it’s usually easier to find, making your life simpler.

How do you swap it in? Easy peasy. Use arugula in the same amount as watercress.

If your recipe calls for a cup of watercress, go with a cup of arugula. It’s that straightforward. Toss it into salads, layer it in sandwiches, or give your soups a peppery garnish.

Arugula doesn’t just play well with others in salads; it’s also a superstar in cooked dishes. Give it a light sauté, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it sooner.

2 – Radicchio

Radicchio is a stunning veggie that turns heads with its deep purple hue! It’s a bit bitter, but in a good way, making it a neat swap for watercress if you’re aiming for a salad with character.

What’s the deal with radicchio? It’s bold and beautiful, adding a pop of color and a hint of bitterness that can transform a dish.

How to make the swap: If your recipe calls for a cup of watercress, use a cup of chopped radicchio—straight up.

Radicchio is perfect for adding some crunch and color to your salads, but don’t stop there. Toss it on the grill or mix it into a stir-fry for an unexpected twist. It holds up well to cooking and gets a bit sweeter when it’s warmed up.

3 – Kale

Kale is a hearty, versatile green when watercress isn’t an option.

Why kale? It’s robust and has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor that can stand up to any dish, making it a rockstar substitute. 

How do you swap it? It’s a breeze. Use kale in a 1:1 ratio for watercress.

Need a cup of watercress? Grab a cup of kale.

Before using it raw in salads, could you give it a good massage to soften it? Kale is not just for salads, though. It brings a fantastic texture to soups and stews and can even be baked into chips for a crunchy snack.

Whether tossing it fresh into a salad or cooking it down in your favorite soup, kale is sure to impress.

4 – Tatsoi

Tatsoi steps onto the scene as a smooth, yet sturdy green poised to take your dishes to the next level.

Why tatsoi? It brings a mild, mustardy flavor that’s not overpowering, making it a great stand-in for watercress. Plus, its texture holds up like a champ in both raw and cooked applications.

How do you nail the swap? Just like with the others, stick to a 1:1 ratio.

Need a handful of watercress? Swap in the same amount of tatsoi. It’s perfect in salads, giving them a fresh, slightly spicy edge.

But don’t stop there. Tatsoi can be sautéed, added to soups, or thrown into a stir-fry, where it’ll add a deliciously tender bite. Whether you’re spicing up a salad or twisting your soup, tatsoi’s got your back.

5 – Frisée

Frisée, the curly, slightly bitter green that’s here to jazz up your salad game!

Why frisée? It’s all about that unique texture and subtle bitterness, which can add real oomph to dishes where you’d normally lean on watercress. Plus, its frilly leaves are just plain fun.

How to swap? Stick to a simple 1:1 ratio. If you’re reaching for a cup of watercress in your recipe, grab a cup of frisée instead. It’s a champ in raw salads, bringing a bit of a bite and a lot of volume.

But don’t pigeonhole frisée to raw uses; it can stand a warm dressing or a quick toss in the pan, wilting beautifully to blend into warm dishes.

Ready to give your dishes some frisée flair? Go for it!