A morning walk through the forest, breathing fresh air and enjoying the quiet, stunning nature is one good thing. But bringing home something delicious from the wilderness that can be of culinary use, I admit, is definitely something my chef’s heart desires. So what I do if I search through the forest soil without success of finding some mushrooms (they sometimes seem to disappear from this planet from time to time)? I go and check my secret places, where a natural spring releases fresh, clear and very often extremely cold water. There I can pick the freshest watercress leaves. Young, delicate, tender and with their typical sharpness of wild cress.
Their taste cannot be compared to cultivated watercress, wild ones are much more intense in flavor. And they are so beneficial for our health, full of chlorophyll, rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B17, C, D, E and K, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, sulfur, and silica. Watercress is used to purify the blood, to stimulate the metabolism and digestive tract, acts as a powerful antiviral and antioxidant. However, take small doses of it to not over stimulate.
See one of my mother’s favorite recipes for wild watercress here. It is super delicious and easy to make:
Watercress Flan with Tomato Vinaigrette
What To Buy
250 ml cream
10 small watercress stems, leaves picked
salt and pepper
butter for the forms (ramekins or dariol)
1 ripe tomato, peeled, diced
1 shallot, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons white balsamic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
How to Make It
Preheat the oven at 170 degrees Celsius. Brush the dariol forms with butter and place in a deep oven tray. Blend the eggs with cream, salt, pepper and watercress in a mixer. Strain through a fine sieve. Pour the liquid into the dariol forms. Pour hot water into the deep oven tray the dariol forms are in and bake the flan at 170 degrees Celsius for around 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the vinaigrette: Stir tomato and shallot dices with balsamic and olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.
Once the flan is ready (you can check with finger pressure carefully on the surface if slightly firm) take it out of the oven and allow the flan to rest and relax at room temperature for around 5 minutes. Then carefully take it out of the dariol forms and place it on starter plates. Spoon over the tomato vinaigrette and serve warm with oven fresh spelt baguette.
Chef Gabi’s Tip:
Don’t rush the flan to get ready in the oven. Depending on the size of your forms it could take even a bit longer. Make enough time to let it rest after baking. This is important for the flan to stabilize a little bit before you present it on a plate.
I personally love this combination of cressy flavor with eggs. It has a mildness and a sharpness which makes this dish just perfect. But of course you can make a similar flan with other aromatic herbs too, like parsley, dill, basil!