Watercress salad with red pepper, black olives, tomatoes in a tarragon vinaigrette by Anjuli

Posted on 12-03-08 · Tags: , , , ,

Watercress with red pepper, black olives, cheddar, and tomatoes

Ah, the salad. The dish for waifs and finicky eaters. The grunt work of a dinner out, ordered and picked over as penance for the main course. On menus it arrives in one of these forms: a “tossed” meal laden with dairy and other “fixings” on a 12” dinner plate, 12 dead leaves of lettuce unceremoniously carried to the table, or a few beautiful twigs dressed with a tablespoon of oil and a slice of cheese that sets you back $12. Thanks for the upsell, but I will definitely PASS.

Watercress has been a staple ingredient of salads since they were liberated from their existence as a hot pickled winter dish in the 15th century. In the time of Louis XIV, salad was said to “moisten and refresh, liberate the stomach, promote sleep and appetite, temper the ardours of Venus and quench thirst.” Brillat-Savarin remarked that salad “refreshes without weakening, and soothes without irritating: I often call it the rejuvenator.”

The below recipe is honor of the age-old tradition of dressing a salad. Some foods are best made at home. Your duty with this one is to visit the grocery store yourself and select the freshest bunch of watercress you can find. Even in cold weather, we all need a refresher.

1 bunch watercress, washed, dried, and thick stems removed
1/2 red pepper, washed, stemmed, and cut thinly
A handful of salt-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup sharp English cheddar, sliced with a vegetable peeler

Combine ingredients into a bowl. Toss with salad dressing and serve.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Taste. Adjust. Mmmm.

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  1. penangtuapui wrote:

    it looks like very dry for the salad.

    December 3rd, 2008 at 5:38 pm
  2. Anjuli wrote:

    Penangtuapui: Yea, it does look a bit dry in the photo, doesn’t it? It’s actually pre-dressing. I have not yet mastered the art of snapping a non-sloppy photo of salad post-dressing. If you make it, I promise you will find it wet and tasty.

    December 3rd, 2008 at 7:03 pm
  3. wrote:

    Man that is so healthy I may need to eat a candy bar just to balance things out. “just kidding” Nice photography, about last comment, if you use a soft flash diffuser you can probably shoot wet stuff without the shine. Good stuff!

    December 3rd, 2008 at 9:58 pm
  4. Andrea wrote:

    Well I think it looks lovely, and since I’m a vegetable fiend, I wouldn’t pass it up at any restaurant. By the way, I’ve tagged you with a meme, participate only if you want to:

    December 6th, 2008 at 4:16 pm
  5. Anjuli wrote:

    foodphotoblog: Thanks. Yea, I have been meaning to play around with diffused lighting for salads and dressing.

    Andrea: Ooooo. That is a tough one!

    December 8th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

What do you think?