I have been growing watercress this year, as it is so expensive in the shops. The exercise has been somewhat successful but it seems I need a little more knowledge about growing watercress. Perhaps next year. I have taken an Ottolenghi Salad, an easy one, and made it with Baby Spinach, a little watercress and a lot of herbs. You could use rocket too, in place of or in addition to any of the ingredients..
The seeds sprinkled over this salad at the end give it a real boost in look, texture and flavour. I’d be tempted to make more of the mix than you need, and keep it in a jar ready for your next creation that’s missing a crunch.
This is another of Ottolenghi’s many herbal salads, like Ettie’s Salad, Celery and Lemon Salad. and Orange and Date Salad. They are so common in the countries from Afghanistan to Israel, across the Mediterranean and onto the coast of North Africa.
I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful.
Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta and Seeds
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1½ Tblspn lemon juice
3½ Tblspn olive oil, plus extra to finish
15g picked dill
15g basil leaves, torn
15g coriander leaves
for the seeds
1½ Tblspn flaked almonds
1½ Tblspn pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
2 tspn sesame seeds
⅓ tspn nigella seeds
pinch flaked chilli
¼ tspn Maldon salt
¼ tspn olive oil
Start with the seeds. Put all the ingredients in a small pan and cook over medium heat for three minutes, stirring all the time, until the sesame seeds take on some colour. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Now assemble the salad. In a big bowl, gently toss together the herbs and watercress, and divide about half of the leaves between four small serving plates.
Use a teaspoon to deposit tiny dollops of ricotta around and about the salad, then dribble the dressing on top. Pile the remaining leaves over each portion, giving the dish as much height as possible, then carefully dot each portion with the rest of the ricotta. Drizzle a tiny amount of extra oil over each serving, sprinkle the seeds on top and serve at once.