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Orange-Watercress Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Watercress Salad

When you live in China, it’s hard sometimes to find leafy greens for a salad. Not that there is a lack of leafy greens, but in Chinese cuisine, greens are served cooked, not raw, and therefore Chinese greens are generally sturdier and a little bitter, with tougher stalks. They’re not tender enough to eat raw, except for romaine lettuce, which isn’t my favorite salad green anyway.

So, I have to be creative. Without mesclun lettuces, arugula, or other common salad greens, I’ve had to look at what is available at the market and improvised, resulting in salads like this Napa cabbage salad, and now, this watercress salad. I found a nice fresh bunch of watercress at the local vegetable market (and it was a steal at $0.50 a pound!), and served it with sweet orange segments and a honey mustard dressing. And it was REALLY good! I will definitely add this salad to my repertoire even when we don’t live in China anymore.

Watercress Salad close

Watercress is a slightly bitter, peppery-tasting green in the mustard family with small leaves. It tastes quite a bit like arugula – perhaps a bit sharper tasting but very similar. Generally there is a tough central stalk that you will want to remove, pinching off the tender shoots and leaves. Since watercress usually grows in shallow water, the stalks may have sand and even teeny tiny snails clinging to the leaves. Remove any sand or little critters by rinsing the watercress in a sink half-full of water with 1-2 tablespoons of salt. The salt will cause any bugs to fall off the plants. Then remove the watercress from the salt water and rinse several times in a sink full of fresh water.

To avoid waste, you can keep the stalks to make vegetable stock later.  (stalk stock…hee hee!)

Because watercress is a crunchy, sturdy green, it holds up well to a robust dressing, like this easy honey-mustard dressing that is a cinch to throw together.

Watercress Salad top

Orange-Watercress Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing

1 large bunch watercress (about 1.5 pounds), rinsed and spun dry
2 oranges

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp prepared mustard (not Dijon)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
salt and pepper

Pinch off the tender shoots and leaves of the watercress, discarding the tough central stalk.

Peel oranges with a sharp knife, removing any of the white pith. Remove the sections of the orange by sliding a paring knife into the orange just beside the white membrane, right to the center, then turning your knife to “pop” the orange segment right out.

Arrange watercress and orange segments on a plate or in a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

Watercress on FoodistaWatercress

15 comments to Orange-Watercress Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

  • I love that shot, it’s so crisp and vibrant – and the salad sounds lovely, perfect for those warm summer days!

  • I love watercress but you don’t see it much here in NZ, the salad sounds great. Thanks for dropping by my blog and good luck with the cheese making, drop me a line if you get stuck at all.

  • Love your salad. But believe it or not, we do not have watercress in Switzerland and it’s one of my favorite veg.

  • Camilla

    What, no watercress?! That’s too bad!

  • whenever my sister makes potato salad, i always eat them in less than a minute or so he he. i just love all sorts of salad. ;**

  • Margo

    I made the orange-watercress salad this evening and instead of the honey (ran out) I used organic maple syrup & stone ground mustard (no prepared yellow mustard) — it was delightful and refreshing, even in February! Thank you for the recipe!

  • [...] salad: After the pea-celery-cucumber salad debacle, I went and found a recipe for Orange-Watercress salad. My Safeway doesn’t carry watercress (no surprise there), so I [...]

  • Arugula is one of my favorite greens. Honey-mustard dressing should go really well with this bitter green. I too just posted a recipe of an Arugula salad on my blog – I think you would like it.

  • Pleasant

    I used canned mandarin orange segments (instead of oranges) & added some of it’s juices to the dressing – was really great!

  • Barb

    If you can find some “live” watercress in your local grocery market, the kind with the roots attached and still growing in a bit of water, you can replant the watercress in potting soil nearby an outdoor water spigot and it will multiply like crazy if kept refreshed with a water bath every day or so. Mine went to seed this summer and started reproducing “outside the box”, and has spread into the moist areas close to my bird bath. Nice, fresh, and cheap. Now, all I have to do is find more ways to enjoy this healthiest of all greens.

  • Camilla

    Wow, interesting! I’ll definitely look for watercress with the roots attached next time! I love gardening, so your idea sounds right up my alley.

  • Thanks for an amazing recipe, love your blog
    Low Fat Salad Recipes

  • Karen

    I used mandarin slices vs. “regular” oranges and it was still amazing. The dressing is so simple yet so yummy.
    My brother & family have lived in Beijing for almost eight years. My sister-in-law also bemoans the lack of salad greens, especially baby spinach. I’ll definitely be sharing this recipe with her!

  • Jen

    Yummy! I made this for lunch today and it was so good! I actually made sure everything was raw and organic. The raw honey and my own special home made mustard made it just delightful. Also instead of whisking the dressing, I put it in the blender. This gave it a more creamy texture!