With watercress being found growing natively at Cilcain, I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes from River Cottage. Of course watercress is delicious picked fresh as a salad, but if you fancy a change this is a great combination of flavours!
For the pastry:
- 125g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 75g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, separated
- 3-4 tbsp iced water
For the filling:
- 20g unsalted butter
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 180g watercress, well washed, picked over and roughly chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 120g crème fraîche
- 40g hard goat’s cheese or parmesan, grated
- 120g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled into biggish pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, rub together the flour, salt and butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, though leave a few pea-size pieces of butter in the final mix – this helps to ensure a flaky end result. Add the egg yolk and use a knife to combine it with the flour mix. Add just enough water to bring the dough together, pat into a flattened disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour.
Butter and flour a 24cm flan tin. Roll out the pastry and use to line the tin. Chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Place the tart tin on a baking sheet, prick the pastry base all over with a fork and line with baking parchment or foil weighted down with uncooked rice or pulses. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and take out and discard the liner and rice. Brush with the egg white and return to the oven for 12 minutes, until the base is cooked.
Meanwhile, warm the butter over a medium-low heat and sauté the shallots until soft – about 10 minutes. While they’re cooking, put the watercress in a food processor along with the eggs, egg yolks and crème fraîche, and pulse to a green purée. Stir in most of the grated cheese, all of the crumbled cheese and the softened shallots, and season. Tip the mixture into the tart shell, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes until golden.