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Watercress salad with apples, cucumber, pecorino, and almonds on a white plate.

20-Minute Watercress Salad (Healthy + Refreshing)

This watercress salad recipe is a nutrition powerhouse! Made with green apple, cucumber, almonds, pecorino, and a lemon vinaigrette dressing, this side salad is light, crisp, and refreshing. Ready in just 20 minutes!
Cuisine American, Mediterranean
Keyword easy, healthy, quick, watercress
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 4


  • Approx. 4 cups watercress (or 2 standard bunches)
  • 1 large green apple, chopped (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1.5 cups cucumber, chopped (approx. 2 Persian cucumbers or 1/2 an English cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup almonds, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Lemon vinaigrette dressing:


  • PREP WATERCRESS: If using watercress still attached to its roots and soil, simply cut near the soil to separate the leaves and stems. Place leaves in a salad spinner and rinse dirt off with cold water. Spin until dry.
  • MAKE DRESSING: In a small bowl or jar with a lid, whisk or shake all dressing ingredients together.
  • PLATE SALAD: In a large mixing bowl, add watercress, chopped apples, chopped cucumber, sliced almonds, and pecorino cheese.
  • ADD DRESSING: Pour dressing overtop and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately!


  • If this salad is your only side to a protein dish, this recipe as written will make about 2 larger (more entree-style) servings.
  • If it's part of an assortment of side dishes, this recipe as written will be good for about 4 people!
  • This salad is best enjoyed immediately, but can be kept for up to 1 day in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • If making in advance, keep the salad dressing in a separate jar until ready to serve. You may also prefer chopping up the apple immediately before serving, to prevent it from browning!
  • If you can't find watercress, the best substitutes would be baby arugula (rocket) or radish sprouts - they have a similar peppery taste to them.
  • You may use any type of apple, but I enjoyed this with a green apple as it's a little more tart!
  • I used pre-sliced almonds, but you are welcome to chop raw almonds on your own. Otherwise, you may use walnuts instead. For a nut-free option, simply omit or swap with something like pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
  • You may use freshly-grated parmesan in place of pecorino, if preferred. 
  • If necessary, you may use apple cider vinegar in place of white wine vinegar (although it does have a stronger flavour).
  • You may use freshly minced garlic cloves in place of garlic powder if you prefer a more garlicky punch. I'd aim for about 2 cloves!