Cresson de Vigne
If you have gardened chances are you have come across Cresson de Vigne (or Bittercress or Cardamine), considered by most to be a weed.
It's other name is Hairy Bittercress which is misleading, as it is neither hairy nor bitter. Bittercress tastes very much like watercress, only sweeter!
It voluntarily pops up nearly anywhere, and grows particularly well in forested areas, as well as in garden pots. In my garden it is most tender in Spring and Fall.
I garden organically so I harvest and prepare Bittercress, (or pull and discard what we will not eat before the seeds form), rather than using herbicides.
Here are some photos of parts of the plant; perhaps you may recognize it?
The following three photos are from
The Michigan State University Extension website:
A rosette of a Cardamine
I like to harvest the plants when they are about 3 to 4 inch
in diameter. Before they have a chance to produce blossoms or seeds; they are also most tender and delicate at that size.
The seeds actually 'explode' from the plant when barely brushed, or blown by the wind. And they sting if they happen to land in your eye. I try to pull and discard the plants before they reach this stage of maturity.
Bittercresses are in the cabbage (or cress) family which was, until recently, known as the Cruciferae. The name is derived from the Latin word "crux", meaning a cross, and refers to the “cross-shaped” arrangement of the four petals in each flower. (The more favored family name now is Brassicaceae, of the Mustard family)
It is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring which makes it invaluable to bees; the gardeners friends.
If you have a chance to try Bittercress, I believe you may like it. When in season it commands a fair price at French Farmers Markets.
But whether you can find (or choose to eat) Bittercress or not, this is a delicious vinagrette; it's delicious on a variety of young lettuce leaves.
It's best made shortly before serving, and used within a day or two. For the salad last night I added a couple of cubes of marinated Blue Cheese with Juniper Berries and Pink Peppercorns.
1 sweet-tart apple, peeled and shredded
A sweet-tart apple works best here; Honeygold or Gingergold
2/3 cup Champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups light olive oil (I use quite a bit less, it's your choice, add to your own taste.)
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until the dressing is well blended. Or, you can vigorously whisk the ingredients in a small bowl until they are completely incorporated.