The colorful selection of fresh produce in this watercress and radicchio salad needs little embellishment to offer a heaping portion of refreshment. The mellow flavors, beets, avocado, and apple (or pear) are a nice contrast with the bracing greens.
There’s no other way to describe the flavor of watercress other than as peppery, and radicchio has a mild bitterness that delights those who enjoy that kind of flavor.
Get to know watercress
A member of the mustard family, the peppery heat of this tiny green comes from the mustard oils that are released when chewing the leaves. It’s a mild and pleasant bite, and this tender, vitamin-C rich green is easy to love.
It used to be that like asparagus, seeing watercress at the market was a sign of spring, but now, it’s available most of the year around. Watercress is believed to have healing and tonic properties above and beyond its splendid concentration of vitamins and minerals.
Watercress is usually sold in small bouquet-like bundles. The diminutive roundish leaves top long, slender stems. The stems are edible and you can use as much or as little of them as you choose; it’s a purely aesthetic decision.
The easiest (and tastiest) way to use this delicate green is uncooked. In addition to enjoying it in salads, watercress is also good in sandwiches in place of lettuce, in dips like this one, and in herbal salad dressings in place of, or in addition to parsley.
Once the leaves look like they need to be used up, watercress is good as a last-minute addition to soups and briefly wilted in stir-fries. See more in this site’s Guide to Watercress, with more recipes to explore.
A bit about radicchio
Playing a supporting role in this salad, this is the most colorful member of the chicory family, with a bracing bitterness and pleasing crunch. the most common.
Chiogga, a version that looks like a small, round head of wine-red cabbage with white streaks, is the most common. Another variety, Treviso, is elongated and has a milder, less bitter flavor profile.
Learn more in this site’s Guide to Chicory Vegetables. And Mixed Greens and Pear Salad with Maple Glazed Pecans is another delicious salad using radicchio.
Photos of salad by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Explore more …
- Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad (with Beet Greens and Oranges)
- Avocado and Radicchio Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
- Vegan Avocado Recipes
- 2 to 3 medium beets, preferably golden (but any other will be fine)
- 1/2 bunch watercress leaves, chopped (some stem is fine)
- 1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
- 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 medium apple or pear, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or toasted nut oil, more or less as desired
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional
- Cook or microwave the beets until done but still firm, starting at 2 minutes on HIGH per beet, then adding a minute as needed. Alternatively, cook them in steadily simmering water in a saucepan for about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice the beets.
- Combine the beets with all the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl and toss together.
- Serve at once, passing around pumpkin seeds for garnish if desired.
Here are more easy vegan salads & sides.