Monday, 2 April 2012

Griddled chicory with lemon bittercress dressing

I keep finding lunch between the cracks of the cobblestones in the back garden. Slender, peppery rocket leaves have appeared not far from where the salad box sat last year, while a lone strawberry pokes up cautiously next to Amelie's tricycle by the back door (I fear that its days are numbered). Hairy bittercress has sprung up too, which is a joy.
Many wild herbs and greens suffer from unfortunate titling; odd names that might unfairly cast them into the realm of pejorative subjectivity. There's Hogweed and Dead nettles to name but two, not to mention Bastard balm. It's the "Hairy" element of Hairy bittercress that seems to raise an eyebrow, although to me it seems to be one of the least follicaly-blessed plants in the garden. Hairy bittercress tastes not entirely dissimilar to cultivated cress, but has stronger, peppery notes. This simple side dish is great with roast pork.

3 to 4 Chicory heads, chopped in half lengthways
The juice of one lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
One large garlic clove, finely grated
2Tsp Chopped Hairy bittercress leaves
Salt and pepper
Hairy bittercress leaves, to garnish

1 Heat the griddle pan/BBQ until scorching hot, brush the chicory with a little olive oil, then place flat side down on the heat. Don't move them for about five minutes, then flip onto the rounded side for a further three. Leave to cool.
2 Squeeze the lemon juice into a glass or jam jar. Eye-up the level of juice; add the olive oil, at a ratio of two parts lemon to 3 parts oil. Stir in the the garlic, chopped bittercress and a good grind of salt and pepper.
3 To serve, toss the chicory in the dressing and serve with young bittercress shoots.