Watercress Salad

This watercress salad recipe is a light, fresh spring side dish. It's filled with crisp veggies, creamy avocado, and a bright champagne vinaigrette.

Watercress salad

If you need a last-minute side dish for Mother’s Day, I think this watercress salad would be perfect. It’s exactly the kind of dish I like to serve at a special occasion meal. Light and refreshing, it provides a welcome contrast to heartier fare like cinnamon rolls (at brunch) or a saucy, cheesy lasagna (at dinner). And while it’s simple to make, it’s a bit more unexpected than a regular green salad. The watercress gives it a peppery bite, which I tame with sweet, juicy orange segments and a bright champagne vinaigrette. Mozzarella and avocado add creamy richness, and toasted pistachios and crisp spring veggies bring plenty of crunch.

This watercress salad is best right after it’s assembled, but you can still do some of the prep in advance. Make the dressing today, and blanch the snap peas. Tomorrow, it’ll be a breeze to put together!

Recipe ingredients like fennel, orange, snap peas, mozzarella, pistachios, avocado, and dressing on marble

Watercress Salad Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make this watercress salad recipe:

  • Watercress, of course! If you’ve never tried it, it has a distinct peppery taste and lovely delicate texture. If you can’t find watercress, make this salad with fresh arugula or mixed salad greens instead.
  • Snap peas and fennel – For crunch! They also add their unique flavors to the salad. The fennel brings notes of anise, while the snap peas add an earthy sweetness.
  • Orange segments – Their sweetness cuts the watercress’s bite.
  • Avocado and fresh mozzarella – I love how these rich, creamy ingredients play off the fresh spring veggies.
  • Toasted pistachios – For (more) crunch and nutty flavor.
  • Champagne vinaigrette – I make this simple dressing with olive oil, fresh orange juice, Dijon mustard, and champagne vinegar. It brings the salad together, adding tangy, fruity flavor.
  • A lemon wedge – Squeeze it over the salad for a nice bright finish.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Watercress on marble

So fresh! The tender green leaves are perfect for spring.

Watercress salad on a platter with serving spoon

Watercress Salad Serving Suggestions

Serve this watercress salad as a side dish for a spring dinner or brunch. For dinner, it pairs nicely with this asparagus risotto, creamy mushroom polenta, or a bowl of potato leek soup. It also goes well with these pasta recipes:

For brunch, serve it with something savory, like a frittata or breakfast casserole. Then, round out the meal with something sweet. Pancakes, muffins, and scones would all be delicious.


Watercress salad recipe

More Favorite Salad Recipes

If you love this watercress salad recipe, try one of these fresh salads next:

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Watercress Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Serves 4
This watercress salad is a fresh, delicious side dish! The bright vinaigrette and the sweet orange segments tame the watercress's peppery bite.


  • 4 ounces snap peas
  • 1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • Champagne Vinaigrette
  • 3 cups watercress
  • Segments from ½ navel orange
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 2 ounces torn fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pistachios
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedge, for serving


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the snap peas into the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove the snap peas and immediately immerse in the ice water long enough to cool completely, about 15 seconds. Drain and place on a kitchen towel or paper towels to dry.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sliced fennel with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dressing and a pinch of salt. Gently toss to coat.
  • Assemble the salad on a platter with the watercress, fennel, snap peas, orange segments, avocado, and mozzarella. Drizzle with some of the dressing and top with the pistachios. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, and serve.


5 from 6 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Sallyann Roberts

    Is it necessary to have a mandolin?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Sallyann, Nope! You could thinly slice the fennel with a knife.

  2. Helene

    5 stars
    Hands down, the best salad I have ever made or eaten on planet earth. It’s so good that for the past few weeks, I eat it at least twice a week. It’s insane. Mad props to whoever developed this salad.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Helene, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com

    really nice salsd, love these ingredients but the creativity even more, and also the toasted pistachios, thank you

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.