Main course: Serves 6. Total time: 15 mins

By this time of year the wild watercress that grows beside my farmhouse in Franc is as bitter as the night is dark. Sainted are those organic producers who laboriously pick off the flowers before they bloom to render it edible. I turn instead to the large bags of Belgian chicory sold locally that are very much a staple salad leaf in Normandy. That and a large jar of Dijon mustard and you have the makings of one of the all-time great French salads.

1 tbsp white wine vinegar
7 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
sea salt, black pepper
600 g Belgian chicory
6 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Blend all the ingredients for the dressing in a liquidiser. The result should be voluptuously thick, like a mayonnaise. You can prepare this in advance.

To serve the salad, slice the root end off the bulbs of chicory and discard any damaged outer leaves. Separate the remaining leaves ­ given how tightly closed the heads of chicory are I tend not to wash them.

Place the chicory in a bowl and toss with the dressing. You may even find it easiest to dive in there with your hands. Toss in the chopped parsley and serve.