In my early childhood years, we lived in a valley inland from Mullumbimby on the north coast of New South Wales. Our house nestled beside a creek that trickled round a bend beside our garden lawn. My mother sometimes took us to the spring where cool green watercress grew in profusion around the edges of the bubbling spring. While we gathered the watercress, Sissy and I sneakily ate a few sprigs loving its cool peppery taste. Sadly, I cannot remember what dishes Mum made with the watercress, the walk to the spring is my only memory. Yet I am content, the memory is enough.
This salad echoes my childhood memories by using watercress with its peppery taste, sweet pear and a touch of bitter witlof. Witlof is a vegetable with white leaves that taste slightly bitter and are eaten in salads. It’s an unusual vegetable that ordinary supermarkets don’t often sell, but if you’re after a special salad for a dinner party and can’t buy witlof, use lettuce leaves. I’ve used corella pears as they’re my favourite because of flavour, yet any variety of pear is suitable. For this recipe, I use a hard vegan feta cheese that I buy at a health food store. The brand ‘Green Vie’ is manufactured in Greece, and is Mediterranean feta in flavour. It’s free from dairy, gluten, soya, lactose and palm oil. I’m sure any hard vegan cheese is a worthy substitute.
· Watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas.
· Watercress contains vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus which all required for a healthy body.
· Watercress is very low in calories, 7 calories in 2 cups of sprigs.
WATERCRESS, PEAR & WITLOF SALAD
V, DF, SF
Makes 1 serving platter for 6 people
For the salad:
1 corella pear, sliced into thin shards
3 handfuls watercress sprigs
1 head witlof, leaves separated
½ cup shaved vegan hard cheese
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing:
1 ripe pear
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
For the dressing, place all the ingredients into the blender and blend until combined. If too thick, add a little more water and blend again. Pour into a serving container.
For the salad, add all ingredients in a bowl, reserving half the walnuts. Drizzle with some of the dressing and gently toss. Spread over a serving platter, scatter the rest of the walnuts on top and serve with the remainder of the dressing in a pouring jar. Serve immediately.