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mean greens

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I’ve never really found my salad groove. I like salads well enough. I have the best of intentions. I dutifully buy greens, but I seldom have a clear plan of how I’ll use them. They tend to sit in the bottom of the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator waiting for me to find some inspiration, which tends not to arrive until the greens are well past their crisp prime and have become a limp and all-too-slimy shadow of their former selves.

But that’s all going to change. I resolved to get better at salads this year, and one of my early coups involves that peppery green sitting clomplacently at the the tail end of the alphabet, the watercress.

This is a green for the ages. “Eat cress and gain wit,” an ancient Greek proverb counsels. Watercress doesn’t require a fancy treatment. It’s lovely with just a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

It’s also quite pleasant, and quite pretty, when studded with radishes for crunch and color and avocado for a creamy contrast. It made a nice light dinner, but it would certainly do well as first course or an accompaniment, if that’s how you prefer to salad.

Watercress, Radish, and Avocado Salad

The contrast of textures and flavors makes this salad sing, but it could work well with any number of additions or substitutions. Pink grapefruit, cilantro, mint, basil or a tangy crumbly cheese would all be welcome on this plate.

1 big handfull of watercress, rinsed with thicker stems removed (note: the thinner stems are perfectly edible)
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced into strips about 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/8 teaspon sea salt, such as Maldon, or fleur de sel
freshly ground pepper

Arrange watercress on a plate, dot with radishes and avocado, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Eat.

Serves one as a light dinner or two as an appetizer or side

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