There's no spring lunch I love more than this simple watercress salad. With a delicious blend of textures and flavors, it's a light, yet satisfying meal.
I have a confession to make – I am not only a terrible gardener, but I’m also a terrible herb gardener. They’re so easy to grow, but they’re oh-so-hard to remember to water. Lucky for me, my mom recently came to visit and planted tons of new herbs, including my favorites – basil and mint – just in time to include them in this salad. What would spring be without an herby grain salad, right?
This one is packed with chewy farro, peppery watercress, and dried tart cherries, which add a necessary pop of sweetness to balance it all out.
I’ve talked about the benefit of tart cherries here, here, and here. We love them mostly because they taste good, but they have some real superfood qualities as well – they’re a natural anti-inflammatory and also a good source of melatonin.
Feel free to switch up this salad with whatever herbs you might have growing – and if you’re gluten-free just switch out the farro for quinoa… meanwhile, I’m going to go water my new herbs while I’m thinking about it…
Watercress Farro Salad with Tart Cherries
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- 2 cups watercress
- ¾ cup chopped carrots
- ⅓ cup ricotta salada or feta cheese, crumbled
- ⅓ cup dried tart cherries
- 1 cup basil leaves, torn
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- big squeeze of lemon (about 1T)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon maple syrup
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a pot of salted boiling water, cook farro for about 35 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble the salad: Toss cooked farro with watercress, carrots, cheese, dried tart cherries, basil, mint, and sliced almonds. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let salad sit at room temp for 15 minutes, then serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. This makes a great lunch the next day.
Love this recipe! Nutty, chewy farro with the sweet/sour of the cherries, the saltiness of the feta, and the bright acidity of the lemon, with peppery herbs? SO GOOD.
I can’t get watercress here so I had to sub an arugula baby spinach mix. I also upped the lemon in the dressing just to adjust it to my personal tastes. Very delicious.
I absolutely LOVE that you posted a photo of the ingredients and provided the name!!! I am not familiar with watercress or farro but since I am quickly reviewing my in-box, I didn’t have enough time to do a search to find out. This is so great that I took time out to let you know it is so helpful! Thank you so much!
I too have a “black thumb”, its ok, we’re all works in progress, right?! LOVE the sound of this salad… I am falling hard for tart cherries, and I can totally see how they would pair well with some crisp watercress. Thank you for the inspiration!!
I really like the look of this! Of course, I’m always a fan of salads that include fruit like cherries. But the pics in this look especially great. Will have to try next time I’ve got my hands on these ingredients!
Tart plums are very popular here in Thailand, so I’m guessing I could try this recipe and use the plums instead. Either way, it looks delicious.
I am a big fan of fresh herbs but also have a bit of a black thumb when it comes to growing and watering them. Except for mint. Mint just goes and grows wherever!
Love the cherries in here — perfect for this time of year in DC as we’re celebrating the cherry blossom festival!
Ha, yea I have mint everywhere too 🙂
Thanks so much for being such an educator! I love seeing other chefs who make it a point to let others know the nutritional benefits of ingredients. So cool! Ha, my lameness with herb growing has me now trying out my kitchen window…figure if I can see the basil every time I do dishes, maybe I will remember to water!! 🙂
Ha, that’s a good plan 🙂
This looks so beautiful and fresh! I love the colour of those carrots – they add such a gorgeous pop to the salad. I feel like we’re behind most places here in Canada in terms of getting local produce, but hopefully it will show up soon.
What beautiful colours and flavours!
love love love watercress and its super nice, subtle spiciness, I bet it goes well with the cherries. and those carrots are lovely too – gotta love the farmers who know what they’re doing, but can’t fault yourself for trying 😉
I love farro salads! The texture always makes me want to have more! I am no herb gardener either but I am good at keeping herbs fresh in the fridge, so I think that counts for something, right? =)
definitely! Do you keep them in water? What’s your trick?
Good daughter for watering the herbs until I return. Also, I’m now an official farro lover!
I’m a terrible herb gardener too, but I keep buying little pots of them and thinking that maybe this time I will remember to water them… my husband hates it but I know next time I’m at the store I will probably pick up a few more! Mint and basil will definitely be on the list. This salad sounds lovely!
Ha, I do that too, and Jack rolls his eyes, and then I get more and forget to water those too 🙂
I fell in love with Farro when I was in Italy. I had the BEST salad of my life there which included Farro and veggies with a herb dressing. I wish I had the recipe to share! This looks very nice though and a great spring dinner option!
I am exactly the same with plants. Love them but don’t ever remember to water them! This salad is so beautiful! I adore cherries. Will definitely be trying it with a gluten free grain!
I completely know what you mean about lacking the green thumb. But this is my kind of salad, and I especially love the watercress and cherries in it.
I have no green thumb too. In fact I had let go of a few pot of herbs because i over trimmed them…Not even watering could save them! These salad is a balance of tart, savoury and sweet flavours. I like the use of maple in the dressing too, it creates a pure comfort food feeling 😉
Fresh herbs are just the best. I love those carrots and the pop of flavor from the tart cherries. Farro is seriously so great in salads 🙂
My mom just helped me plant a bunch of herbs too! She’s trying to teach me how not to kill them. This looks incredible! I haven’t had farro or cherries in the longest time, but all these herbs on my balcony will be perfect for this dish! I can’t wait to try this.
Such a gorgeous salad. One that is perfect for the upcoming summer. I feel you with the herb gardening. Once the initial excitement is over, watering herbs becomes yet another chore to add to the list.
Good luck with the book! Cheers..