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This watercress salad makes the leafy green taste divine! Pair it with apples, lemon and Parmesan shavings for an irresistible side dish.

Watercress Salad
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Got a load of leafy watercress? Here’s a great way to make this healthy green taste divine: Watercress Salad with Apple! Pair this bitter leafy green with lemon, apple and savory Parmesan shavings and you won’t be able to resist another bite! The sweet apple, zingy citrus and flaky salt balance out the watercress beautifully, making for a fresh and vibrant side dish. Here’s how to make it, and a bit more about working with this leafy green!

Working with watercress

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery, bitter flavor. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that’s in the same plant family as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale. Watercress is an aquatic plant, so in the wild it tends to grow partially submerged in running water or in flooded areas. The peppery flavor of watercress is similar to arugula, so you’ll want to balance it with sweet, salty and rich flavors as a contrast.

In 2014, watercress was named the world’s most nutrient dense food, in a CDC study on powerhouse fruits and vegetables. It’s also one of the oldest documented greens, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. 

When you’re looking for watercress at the store, we recommend buying the baby or young watercress that’s sold in bags. This has a feathery texture and a milder flavor (similar to baby arugula). Avoid bunches of watercress, which are more mature and may taste extremely bitter.


Ingredients in watercress salad

A good watercress salad combines a variety of flavors and textures: because on its own, this leafy green is quite bitter! Taste one bite out of the bag, and you’ll see what we mean. It’s essential to use other vegetables and fruits to cut the intensity: here, sweet apples work wonders at mellowing the green. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Crisp tart apples (we like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
  • Shallot
  • Watercress (sold in bags, not bunches per the notes above)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice and lemon zest
  • Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Kosher salt and flaky sea salt
Watercress Salad

Tips for making the salad

Once you’ve assembled the ingredients, here are a few tips for mixing up this tasty watercress salad:

  • No need for dressing! Season the watercress with the olive oil and lemon juice, then toss with the remaining ingredients. It comes together into a fresh, vibrant salad that tastes like more than just the sum of its parts! Like our Easy Arugula Salad, there’s no need to whisk up a separate dressing: just toss and go.
  • Flaky salt is a nice salad finishing salad. This recipe uses both kosher salt and flaky sea salt: but if you don’t have one or the other, don’t worry! You can substitute for either. Flaky sea salt works as a nice finishing salt, and adds a nice crunchy texture to the mix.
Watercress Salad

More green salads

Love a good green salad? We’ve got ways to use just about every leafy green. Here are a few more salads we love:

This watercress salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, omit the Parmesan cheese.

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Watercress salad

Watercress Salad with Apple

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


This watercress salad makes the leafy green taste divine! Pair it with apples, lemon and Parmesan shavings for an irresistible side dish.


  • 2 crisp tart apples like Gala or Pink Lady, sliced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces watercress*
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shavings
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt**


  1. Slice the apples and shallot.
  2. Place the watercress in a bowl and toss it with the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and kosher salt. Add the sliced apples, shallot, Parmesan cheese shavings, and flaky sea salt and toss until combined. Enjoy immediately. 


*We prefer young watercress that’s sold in a bag, since the flavor is milder than more mature watercress sold in bunches.

**If all you have is kosher salt or flaky sea salt, you can combine these quantities to taste. The flaky sea salt is a nice finishing salt for a salad.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!