georgia-okeeffe-yellow-cactusHere in Colorado Springs we have already started to celebrate the Year of Georgia O’Keeffe, even though the blockbuster traveling exhibition featuring more than 40 of her paintings does not open at our Fine Arts Center until June 27.

Georgia was considered a gracious hostess who carried her creativity into the kitchen where she took great pride in her healthy culinary style that centered around mostly homegrown and natural foods.

Today’s Tasty Tuesday recipe features her simple watercress salad recipe from a much-loved and well-worn cookbook by Margaret Wood titled, A Painters Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe.

sixdecadesofgeorgialandscapes

It’s reported that Georgia hiked the hills and mountains around her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico, in search of streams producing watercress for salads and soups.

Today we are suggesting that our readers join Georgia in spirit and invite friends and family for lunch next weekend, preceded by a back to nature spring green foraging hike. We promise it will be good for your physical and mental health, as well as a fun way to add steps to your Fitbit account. There are a number of foraging apps available for smart phones that help identify wild edibles.

Watercress grows year-round in most parts of the country and it’s bountiful in the late spring at higher altitudes. One would suspect that Georgia associated the intensely peppery flavor of this aquatic plant with clean, cold mountain streams, new leaves on trees and sensuous spring energy.

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) has been used since ancient times to support health. It’s now referred to as a superfood by many nutrition science authorities. If you can’t forage for watercress yourself, it is It hydroponically grown and nationally available in most higher-end supermarkets in the specialty area of the produce section in sealed plastic bags containing a little moisture and lightly pressurized to prevent crushing of contents. It’s expensive, but not when you consider the unusually high nutritional value. Mixing watercress with other greens is a good choice, particularly when you are serving a lot of people or when you want to soften the peppery flavor.

TTcutdownwatercress-salad

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Watercress Salad for Four
2 substantial bunches watercress
1/2 garlic clove

Herb Salad Dressing
2 teaspoons herbs: tarragon, dill, basil or parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons high-quality vegetable oil (we used avocado oil)
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon whole seed mustard
2 garlic cloves
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
chives as garnish

Directions
Wash and pat dry the fresh herbs before chopping.
Blend the olive and vegetable oils with the grated garlic, lemon juice and mustard.
Before serving, rub a wooden salad bowl with a garlic clove split in half. Place watercress in salad bowl and toss with dressing. Plate and garnish with chopped chives, avocado, crumbled goat or blue cheese, or other toppings of your choice.

Nutritional information
According to a list published by the CDC in 2014, watercress scored the highest of all plant foods for nutrient value of fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate and vitamins A, B12 and D. It actually placed considerably higher per calorie unit than kale, mustard, turnip and collard greens.

If you are looking for food to eat to improve or protect your health and shrink your waistline, look no further than watercress, particularly if you forage for it yourself.

Ellen Troyer with the Biosyntrx staff