Spring Watercress Salad

Make this watercress salad for a healthy spring meal! I love how soft spring greens contrast with bright root veggies in this refreshing, delicious dish.

Spring Root & Watercress Salad

Since starting this blog, I’ve gotten over a number of foods I didn’t think I liked: radishes, carrots, and, most recently, pepper. (I know, pepper is a weird one).

I have a list going for Jack too: peas, asparagus, avocado. Check, check, check. And now –  with this watercress salad – beets! (Yes, Jack, I lied. These things I told you were turnips are in fact beets).

My husband is not a picky eater by any means —there are about five foods he’s adamant about not eating. I just find it a fun game to work these things in. The only thing left on the list is grapefruit, and I’ll save that for another day.

Watercress salad recipe

My Watercress Salad Recipe

So how do you trick someone into eating beets? Like everything else, you have to prepare the beets a different way. In this watercress salad, I roasted just a few for texture and sweetness. I thinly shaved the rest, marinated them in a lemony dressing along with a shaved radish, and kept them raw.

The crisp shaved beets work nicely with the chewy wheat berries and crunchy toasted pine nuts. I added some crumbly ricotta salata on top (not pictured), which is optional but recommended. A zingy lemon dressing ties the whole thing together.

As Jack was devouring his watercress salad, he said “I think this is my favorite salad you’ve made.” I kept my little secret to myself, but the cat’s out of the bag now.

Spring watercress salad recipe ingredients

What to Serve with Watercress Salad

This watercress salad would be a delightful spring lunch on its own, but you could also serve is as a side dish with a larger meal. It would pair wonderfully with a light spring soup – try this asparagus soup, this carrot gazpacho, or this ginger miso soup.

An egg salad, avocado, tempeh, or tomato sandwich would be excellent with it as well.

If you love this watercress salad recipe…

Try this kale salad, this beet salad, this broccoli salad, or this pasta salad next!

Spring Watercress Salad

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This spring watercress salad is a delicious healthy lunch. Featuring beets 2 ways, it's a fun showcase of their sweetness & crunch.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 small yellow beets
  • 1 small chioggia beet
  • ½ large black radish
  • ½ cup cooked wheat berries
  • Handful of chopped spinach
  • Handful of watercress (or arugula or other spring green)
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Crumbled ricotta salata
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Handful of fresh herbs: oregano and chives
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wrap 1 of the yellow beets in foil and roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Let it cool, peel it, and thinly slice it. Chill until ready to use.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic, garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the remaining raw yellow beet, the chioggia beet, and the black radish.
  4. Toss together the raw beets, watercress, some of the dressing, salt & pepper. Let that sit for 20 minutes or so, tossing occasionally, until the dressing reduces the bitterness in the radish.
  5. Warm the wheatberries slightly and toss them with the spinach and some more of the dressing. Place the roasted beet, raw beets, radish and watercress on top along with some pine nuts and ricotta salata. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dressing if you like.


I’m using this olive oil right now, and it’s delightful.


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Beautiful salad! I used to not enjoy beets, but it turned out I just was not cooking them properly. Amazing how a little change in the kitchen can introduce such wonderful flavors to your palate in the future!

  2. I love beets and love watercress, a great salad!! Thnaks so much!!

  3. Oh man, I’m still working on learning to love beets. A beautiful salad like this looks very persuasive! Love all of those colors. 🙂

  4. My blog actually convinced me to fall in love with beets too! And the fact that I had such a huge harvest of them last year, and the roots keep forever. In fact, I believe I still have two sitting in my bottom fridge drawer…The best part about them for me is how much beauty they can add to a dish. Esp. love the chioggias.

  5. Gea from ocaldeiraodedagda.blogspot.pt

    The beet salad looks wonderful and is so healthy: i have to try it. Here in Portugal fresh salads season is also coming. Yum!

  6. dora from ziripiti.com

    love it!
    beautiful images, beautiful colors, beautiful meals

  7. What a gorgeous salad! I don’t make NEARLY enough salad

  8. Peppers aren’t really my jam either. They especially don’t like me, along with radishes. Which is a shame. I love radishes!

  9. Annie from fallsannie.com

    Every spring I get excited about radishes and buy a bunch. Then I try one and remember I don’t like them! I want to like them, but so far, no dice!

    • jeanine

      well you have to go in gradually – slice one and bury it into a big well-seasoned salad – you taste the crunch and not the bitterness.

  10. This salad is simply stunning, and I love all the springtime veggies! When my boyfriend and I started dating he told me he hated cauliflower (what’s to hate about cauliflower??)….I was convinced he’d like it if it was prepared differently and determined to make it happen….2 years later he tells me I don’t make cauliflower nearly enough 🙂

    • jeanine

      Ha, yep, that same scenario has happened around here :).

  11. cheri from mysavoryspoon.blogspot.com

    The chioggia beet is one of my favorites for this reason, beautiful dish, looks so elegant!

  12. I’ve found a new love for different foods since blogging too! Radishes used to taste terrible to me, but now I love their texture. Great salad!

    • jeanine

      that crunch! I just love it 🙂

  13. i didnt think i liked beets until i tried them roasted and now i love it. this salad looks very refreshing..i have no luck with good watercress, i see them at Asian grocery stores but they look dead 🙁

    • jeanine

      aww – well, arugula is a good sub 🙂

  14. oh man, white balsamic is a weakness of mine. Loving this salad so much! And watercress is one of my favorite greens (with wild rockets/arugula). Will have to try this! x

    • jeanine

      me too – for some reason I never use to buy it but now I’m obsessed 🙂

  15. Skye from frommydiningtable.com

    I love beets. So would definitely like this salad. It looks dreamy.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.