Watercress with anchovies and croutons

This zesty salad can be prepared in less than ten minutes and requires only a fresh bunch of watercress, some anchovy fillets, a loaf of bread, lemon and olive oil.

For best results, use salted anchovies preserved in oil and a baguette (long French loaf) or any other unsliced bread of your choosing — for example, pumpernickel would also be nice. The quantities below will serve 2 people.

1/3 baguette, or enough bread to make 12 large croutons
3 tsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch watercress
10 anchovy fillets

1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F, gas mark 6).

Slice the bread into largish cubes. Coat the bottom of a baking pan with 1/2 tsp. olive oil. Transfer the bread cubes to the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Grind on some black pepper. Toss.

Bake the bread cubes for about 5 minutes, until golden. Check frequently to ensure that they don’t burn.

While the croutons are baking, slice off the stems of the watercress. Immerse in a container of water, such as the bottom of your salad spinner. Rinse well and spin dry.

Divide the watercress between individual plates or shallow bowls. Top with the anchovy fillets. Squeeze on a few drops of lemon juice. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil (or more if you like). Add the croutons.

Serve with a full-bodied red, for example a Bordeaux or a Côtes du Rhone. Serves 2.

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