Hugging a clean little trickle of water on the steep side of the Wollondilly Valley between Bullio and Goodmans Ford, there is a lovely little patch of watercress (Nasturtium offininale). I’ve known it was there for a few years, struggling away through the seasons and our rainfall variability; and struggling away was about all that I thought that this patch of watercress did. But it has been a wet year, I have been checking more regularly, and for a fairly brief Spring window between Winter quiescence and flowering, the struggle was over. It was harvest time.
I am not a stranger to wild watercress, with the same stuff growing well in little pockets of sandstone filtered seeps along Sydney’s coast, but that is the stuff of little snippets taken here and there; more a peppery spice collection than a serious vegetable harvest. This time I gathered bags full.
Bulk harvested greens to me are a thing for blanching, chopping and freezing in friand or muffin trays for later use (most commonly with amaranth, native spinach or mixes including them). Then the obvious watercress recipe to me is a soup; but there is a seasonal problem here – a spring harvest loads my freezer ready with a soup ingredient… just in time for summer. And our summers are rarely soup weather. Enter the idea of watercress gazpacho, one of those ideas that is new when you think of it and feels like your own invention; but the eureka moment quickly gives way to knowing that if it really is such a sensible seasonal idea it is very unlikely to be an original one. A few minutes in the near infinity of internet recipes confirmed it, with enough variations to mix to suit the ingredients available, and there it was – spring watercress gazpacho.