Creamy Watercress Sauce over Pasta with Asparagus

What the heck do you do with watercress? Let alone, what is watercress?

I know this short, leafy plant likes to grow in wet, swampy areas and it has a very short growing season. At first I was throwing it into salads, mixing it in with other greens, but you don’t get a very clear idea of its unique contribution. Occasionally I would nibble on a leaf and notice it was kind of spicy (like the aftertaste of a radish or the kick of a leek – but not pungent, more fresh). At a loss for what to do with my watercress, I hunted through the internet for some delectable recipe.

I was inspired by a recipe I saw for Pasta with Creamy Watercress Sauce but lacked many of the key ingredients (namely the creme fraiche). I decided, however, to throw together my own version of a creamy watercress sauce based on a household favorite, the Bernardi Sauce.

The Bernardi Sauce is a basic butter, milk and flour roux, which Eric learned from his Italian teacher back in undergrad. It cooks up fast, and with that flour in the pan – you can barely leave its side. It’s fairly high maintenance, as far as sauces goes. It’s good to have your ingredients ready to go before you turn on the heat.

I started by roughly chopping up all of my watercress and putting it in the blender. I let it sit there, waiting for the Bernardi Sauce.

After thoroughly washing the asparagus (removing the gritty, sandy soil that gets caught in it), I cut the stalks into two inch pieces. I placed these in a small sauce pan and added olive oil. I sauteed them over a medium high heat for four or five minutes then added salt, pepper and garlic powder and reduced the heat.
With the asparagus well under way, I started on the Bernardi Sauce. Once I seasoned the white sauce to taste, I poured it over the watercress in the blender. In order to obtain a creamy sauce with a smooth consistency, I let the sauce blend for quite a long while. Meanwhile, I mixed the pasta and asparagus. Beautifully green, and blended to perfection, I poured the sauce over the pasta and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top.

My only regret: sour cream. I wish I had added sour cream to the watercress before adding the Bernardi Sauce. Watercress’ peppery taste is a very back-of-the-mouth flavor, and I think a hint of tartness or sourness would have rounded out the flavors nicely. Otherwise – delicious! and repeatable.



2 Comments to “Creamy Watercress Sauce over Pasta with Asparagus”

  1. S0unds FABULOUS!! Much better than just a plain salad with watercress. Watercress always makes me think of sandwiches. There’s a book…can’t think of the title right now…where a goose or swan goes to a hotel to and orders watercress sandwiches. I’m off to search for the book title…

  2. found it…Trumpet of the Swan!

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