September 22, 2010

Watercress, Fennel and Pinenut Salad

At this time of year in early Spring, watercress is at its optimum with a delicate aroma and slight peppery flavour. It tastes brilliant in stirfries and soups, but even better when simply served, fresh, in salads and sandwiches. I think that by keeping the watercress raw, the crispness of the stems and the tanginess of the leaves really shine through.

In this salad, I've teamed watercress with fennel, which adds a light, anise-flavoured crunch.  I have also used toasted pinenuts, for their buttery earthiness, but hazelnuts and walnuts also work well. The addition of fresh orange and lemon juice to the dressing compliments the slight bitterness of the greens, altogether giving the salad a delightful, refreshing zing.

- 3 tbs olive oil
- Juice of 1 small orange
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 bunch watercress
- ⅓ cup pinenuts, toasted

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange and lemon juice to form the dressing. Season well, and adjust the flavours (if necessary), to your taste. Halve the fennel, then slice thinly (alternatively, use a mandolin to shave the bulb) and add to the dressing, leaving it to marinate for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, trim the watercress into thirds, and toss with the pinenuts into the bowl with the fennel. Devour immediately!

    Watercress, Fennel and Pinenut Salad

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