ST ALBANS, March 6 – You will need a handy bunch of the freshest Hampshire watercress. And a generous quantity of mozzarella.
Throw a mug of pasta into a pan of boiling water. I leave the actual quantities entirely to your discretion. Turn your oven on. Smile.
While your pasta simmers, wash your watercress and dice three or four large open mushrooms in readiness. Dice another for good measure. This is art.
Sip your wine, which should be red. Progress to stuffing a couple of dozen pitted black olives with garlic. Not too much garlic, mind. Moderation is best.
Rinse your pasta with boiling water and strew a thin layer across the bottom of a baking dish. A little olive oil at this stage may prove efficacious.
Sip wine. Spread your watercress on top of the pasta. You might want to cut your watercress with scissors. Up to you.
Arrange your diced mushrooms in a herringbone pattern studied with the stuffed olives. Add chopped tomatoes – fresh is best. I’d add basil but have none to hand.
Now for your mozzarella, which must be buffalo. Dice several balls into medallions and spread them over the toms. Slide into your oven for twenty minutes. Sip wine.
What are you reading now? I’m into ‘Billy and the Devil’ by Dean Lilleyman, a chilli pepper read. Whoa! And you? I’m curious.
Prepare a bowl of breadcrumbs. Sip wine. Ready your plates and cutlery. Sow breadcrumbs over mozzarella. Grate a little Parmesan over said crumbs. Place under grill to finish off. Refill glass. Sip. This sharing of pleasure is so … pleasurable.
Be at pains not to relax too much and take your eye off the bake. A singed topping is exactly what you do not what. Not that we are measuring or marking here.
Turn off all phones, PC’s, tablets, anything that might intrude upon your enjoyment of this august moment.
Serve. Savour. Return for seconds. Return to reading. So what exactly are you enjoying most about..?
Let the record show empty plates and replete minds.
This ‘Rustic Watercress Bake’ was created for you by R J Askew, author of ‘In The Room With Three Doors’, a contemporary novella set largely in the watercress beds of Hampshire, England. Link to follow. But first: the piquant poetry sorbet, next Friday.