Winter Cress, Yellow Rocket, or Barbara’s Cress (Barbarea vulgaris, R. Br. member of a large family of plants, cruciferae, brassica and mustard) Named for Saint Barbara since the herb can be harvested during the cold winter months, Saint Barbara’s Day is December 4 and used as a salad green.
Surprising how quickly we forget the use of wild foods when it is so simple to fill our refrigerator with store purchased produce. Late in April, during the Intro to Farming workshop we wanted to include some fresh and foraged foods in our meal so Rick took a group of students to the nettle patch. It was a prosperous harvest, as they also came across a large area of Winter Cress that was beginning to form florets.
Rick had them harvest a shopping bag full of cress, along with another paper sack of nettles. Later in the kitchen the nettles were set aside and the winter cress buds became an instant hit as we all gathered around the table to discuss how we might prepare them for dinner.
Stine first blanched them in salted water, then quickly sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic. When raw they have a slightly bitter flavor but once they were cooked that bite mellowed out and the taste was reminiscent of rapini. I felt rich and fortified with the power of these spring greens
Saint Barbara is the patron saint of explosives, artillerymen and miners. Some people refer to this type of land cress as miner’s cress. It is a hardy green and can survive winter temperatures, even under the snow.
And the nettles, they were blanched and frozen to be used later in a soup or in nettle pasta.