Becca shares a light seasonal dish using peppery watercress with creamy ricotta filled crepes, offset with a tangy balsamic reduction.
Lately I've been trying to focus on cooking with seasonal ingredients. Seasonal vegetables tend to be cheaper, more flavourful, more nutritious, and easier to find in the shops - so it's win win (... win win). At this time of year, it's all about the greens: asparagus, rocket, broccoli, spinach, and one of my favourites - watercress.
Watercress has a mild peppery flavour, and is really easy to cook with. You can use it in so many ways - put it in something hot and it will cook down just like spinach, or use it raw in salads and sandwiches. This time, I decided to add it to a ricotta cheese mixture, and use it to stuff some simple crepes, topped with a light drizzle of balsamic syrup. The result was beautiful! The peppery cress was perfect alongside the creamy ricotta, and a tough of agave nectar (or honey if you prefer!) was the perfect way to offset the tangy balsamic.
This is definitely a recipe I'll be making again - it would make a great brunch dish for guests (easy to make + impressive to look at + irresistible flavours = the trifecta!). If you'd rather give your guests your full attention, you can even make the dish in advance, and just warm it up a little when you're ready to serve. The creamy filling is great warm or cold, so you can either stuff the crepes before or after you heat them, depending on your personal preference. I would recommend, however, that you hold off on making the balsamic syrup until just before serving - it takes just a couple of minutes, but if you let it cool before serving, it will thicken up too much to be able to drizzle!
Do you have a favourite seasonal vegetable to use at this time of year?
Creamy watercress stuffed crepes with balsamic reduction
For the filling:
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
100g watercress, roughly chopped
250g ricotta cheese
2tbsp (heaped) Greek yogurt
1tbsp agave nectar or honey
For the crepes:
200g plain flour
For the balsamic reduction:
8tbsp balsamic vinegar
Begin by preparing the filling. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, and cook the onion and garlic over a fairly low heat for around 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the watercress, ricotta, yogurt and agave nectar. Mix well and season to taste (remember, the watercress is quite peppery, so go easy on the black pepper!).
Next, prepare your crepe batter. Using a whisk, beat the eggs into the flour, and then add the milk a little at a time, whisking until smooth each time before adding more.
Give the frying pan a quick wipe with some kitchen roll (no need to wash it thoroughly), add the butter, and turn on the heat. Once it has melted, turn the heat down quite low, and pour the excess butter back into the pancake mixture, whisking a little to prevent lumps forming. Now, as long as you are using a good quality non-stick pan, you should be able to cook the whole batch of pancakes without adding any extra butter. If your pan is not non-stick, you may need to add a little extra butter before you cook each pancake.
Add a few tablespoons of the pancake mixture to the pan, and swirl the pan so that the batter covers the base in a thin layer. Cook over a fairly low heat for a few minutes. After a minute or so, the edges of the crepe will begin to lift up - a couple of minutes later, the underside will be golden brown. At this point, flip the pancake (I do this slowly with a spatula!) and cook the other side for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate (in a slightly warm oven, if you want to keep them warm) while you repeat with the remaining crepe batter.
Just before you are ready to serve, add the balsamic to a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture has approximately halved in volume (it will continue to thicken as it cools, so it's better to remove it from the heat when it's still just slightly too thin).
Add a few tablespoons of the ricotta mixture to one quarter of each crepe, and fold them in half, then in half again. Serve with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
Inspired? For more delicious watercress recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.