On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…seven swans-a-swimming,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.
There are no actual swans in this recipe. Also missing are fish, which is what I’ve seen most Twelve Days of Christmas themed recipes use for the seventh day. Instead, we’ve got watercress–a pleasantly peppery aquatic member of the mustard family–and crunchy water chestnuts–a lightly sweet, crisp corm of the aquatic Eleocharis dulcis. If you’re vegan, the cream cheese used to bind the ingredients together can be replaced with a cup of cashew sour cream, which unlike the dairy cream cheese will be much more easily spreadable.
These elegantly simple sandwiches are a nice break from the heavy foods normally associated with Christmas. They’re particularly delicious when paired with the pears with blue cheese and prosciutto appetizer.
8 thin slices white sandwich bread
8 ounces room temperature cream cheese
1/2 cup watercress leaves
2/3 cup canned water chestnuts, drained
32 thin slices of peeled cucumber (optional)
Coarse sea salt
Coarsely chop the water chestnut and watercress. You’ll want to have large enough pieces of the water chestnut that they’ll still crunch nicely when bitten into. Whip into softened cream cheese.
If you’ve chosen to use the cucumber (which is traditional for watercress sandwiches), pat the surfaces of the slices to ensure they are dry. Lightly spread the cream cheese mixture on one side of each bread slice. Layer the cucumber slices on four of the bread slices, then sprinkle with salt. Top with the remaining four bread slices.
Using a sharp knife, remove the crusts from each sandwich. If you have good, metal cookie cutters you can use them at this point to cut the sandwiches into decorative shapes. Otherwise, slice into quarters and serve. Garnish with any leftover watercress leaves.