Land Cress!!!!

September 3, 2010

Remember the peppery watercress that you grew on cotton wool all those years ago in school? This week’s land cress is its cousin. Easier to grow as it requires less water it’s a native of southern Europe and they also use it in the States. It’s a fully paid up member of  the superfoods club with tons of iron, calcium, beta carotene and vitamin C which is always nice to hear.

Flavourwise it’s lovely and peppery but it’s definitely fiery stuff with a real earthiness (if green was a taste this would be it)  so it’s often served with other salad greens to temper it. This bite works well as a garnish  for other dishes especially meats. For fish add it finely chopped to a mayonnaise with some capers or make a kind of pesto to serve on the side. If you want to use it straight up as a salad I’d say honey in your dressing will balance things nicely. Try it with some pecans and goat’s cheese. It can be used with Ricotta to stuff ravioli and I found a blog with a nice recipe if you’re interested http://www.soupmaker.co.uk/2009/03/08/american-landcress-and-ricotta-ravioli/ 

As for me, I made a fritatta. Kept it simple. I’m just back from a week in Valencia Island, Kerry (I’ll be making a list of all the great places we ate in for anyone who’s heading that way) and it’s still summertime in this house and that means not too much faffing around at dinnertime. Ricotta seemed like an obvious addition and I also added some depth with Parmesan flakes. A simple tomato salad on the side and that was lunch today.

Land cress fritatta with tomato salad

Land Cress fritatta with Ricotta and Parmesan.

You’ll need:

70gr or 3 large handfuls of land cress

Olive oil

4 large organic eggs

100gr or  1/2 tub of ricotta cheese

2 heaped tablespoons Parmesan coarsely grated.

Salt and pepper

Begin by washing the cress. Remove the stalky stems and roughly chop the leaves then heat a little olive oil in a small pan. Add the cress and toss for about a minute to lightly wilt it. Beat the eggs. Add the cheeses, salt and plenty of black pepper mix together with a whisk. The whisk is to break up the ricotto, I found that a fork just didn’t make a lot of headway. Finally,  fold in the landcress. Make sure there is enough oil in the pan to prevent the fritatta from sticking then reheat it. Add the egg mixture and allow the bottom of the fritatta to cook and the rest of the mixture to begin setting. This should take a couple of minutes. The pan should be hot enough to start the cooking process but not so hot that the base starts burning before that happens. You get the idea. So, when the egg has started to set put the fritatta under a hot grill to finish it off on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Land cress fritatta

Variations: Slow fry an onion until caramelized and add this to the egg mix with the land cress or try some pancetta which pretty much always works in this kind of thing.  A clove or two of garlic at the beginning would be a nice touch as well……

Here’s the salad I ate with it……….

The simplest  tomato salad

You’ll need:

3 ripe tomatoes

Olive Oil

Red wine vinegar

Salt.

Chop your tomatoes and dress to taste with the other ingredients. This one gets better over time so make it first if you think of it and always save the leftovers no matter how small. You can add sliced onion Andalucian style. This really works with summer onions which are much milder compared to the hardcore winter ones.

Have a great weekend and have a great time at the Picnic if you’re lucky enough to be going .  Chuck will be playing records there tomorrow night and is on his way down as I write. Enjoy!!!

Sarah

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