Cook the Book: Watercress & Curly Endive Salad with Croutons

Cook the Book: Watercress & Curly Endive Salad with Croutons

[Flickr: David Blaine]

To conclude our week of recipes from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson I thought I'd share this Watercress & Curly Endive Salad with Croutons , which makes good use of two types of greens that don't get enough respect: watercress and curly endive, more commonly known as frisée.

These two lettuces aren't enjoyed as often as they should be, probably since we can only normally get our hands on the overly bitter, often fibrous and hard-to-swallow frisée, and the woody, clunky version of watercress most supermarkets pass off as "fresh." These greens are best purchased really fresh, preferably at a farmers' market, and their time to shine is spring.

When combined, the peppery cress and tender, pleasingly bitter frisée creates a salad that's worlds away from the dull mesclun mixes we've become used to. These are salad greens that really taste like something—they don't act solely as a vehicle for other ingredients or a particularly intriguing dressing. It's a salad that's all about the lettuce, and this time of year, it's just right.

Win The Vegetarian Option

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Vegetarian Option to give away this week.

  • Yield:4, generously


  • 1/2 stale baguette
  • 2 heads curly endive (frisée)
  • 2 bunches of watercress, sprigs picked, washed
  • For the dressing
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil


  1. 1.

    Cut 2 or 3 handfuls of croutons from the baguette and lay them out on a wire rack to dry out further.

  2. 2.

    Trim the curly endive of all outer, dark green leaves, wash well, and pat dry with paper towels.

  3. 3.

    To make the dressing, put the vinegar, hot water, garlic, salt, and plenty of pepper into a large salad bowl. Whisk together to dissolve the salt, add the oils, and continue whisking until the dressing is loosely emulsified.

  4. 4.

    To assemble, tip the croutons into the dressing and deftly mix together with salad servers, coating them well. Allow some of the dressing to soak in for a moment or two, then add the endive and watercress. mix everything together

  5. 5.

    thoroughly, lifting the croutons up through the leaves, and serve at once.