Bright and Cheery Watercress Citrus Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

by Pamela

citrus salad, homemade salad dressing, strawberry vinaigrette, watercress salad

We’re not quite in the middle of winter yet, but it feels like we’ve been stuck here for a year already. All the cold, snow, gray and MASSIVE numbers of people with the flu has really done a number on our heads (or at least it has for me). It doesn’t help that even the color palate in the produce department is limited to green, brown and orange. While the colors may inspire 70’s decorating nightmares (avocado colored appliances and orange shag carpet anyone?), don’t overlook the varied color palate of winter’s darling – citrus fruit. Because you can use it in a bright and cheery citrus salad.

The reality around here (as it pertains to citrus) is that I have to fight Craig for any and all citrus fruit that comes into this house. No, he doesn’t suffer from scurvy and he’s not a total germaphobe and have to eat every ounce of vitamin C he can (to help ward off colds and flu). No, he hordes the fruit to make his citrus margarita. Actually, more like margarita-S.

I managed to buy some Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges and keep them hidden long enough to make this citrus salad. No easy feat mind you. Where the typical citrus salad borders on something you’d find on a breakfast buffet at the local senior center (or cruise ship aka a floating senior center) or on some kind of spartan diet plan and called dessert. I wanted to make a citrus salad that was more like an actual salad.

Citrus Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

This citrus salad combines the best of a bowl of citrus fruit with the spiciness of a watercress salad (which is another vegetable in season now). To help add a touch of much needed summer to the doldrums of winter, It’s topped off with a homemade salad dressing you’ll be making year round – strawberry vinaigrette.

Like I said, I used Cara Cara oranges (which have a pink-ish orange interior) and blood oranges (blood red interior – natch), but you could use tangerines, navel oranges, pink grapefruits, mandarins, clementines, tangelos and I think you get the picture. A citrus salad is versatile and forgiving. Don’t want to make it a watercress salad? Use baby arugula. Don’t like/have that? Use baby lettuces, red or green leaf lettuce or even spinach. The tangy citrus fruits work with almost all greens which is why a citrus salad like this can be so versatile. Make it with what you have on hand or can easily get.

Watercress Citrus Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

The strawberry vinaigrette I used on this citrus salad is a nice sweet compliment to the peppery watercress and tangy citrus. I was fortunate to be able to use fresh strawberries (one of the perks of living in California), but you can easily use frozen (but thawed) strawberries to make up this easy homemade salad dressing.

I’ve been using this strawberry vinaigrette on chicken salads, in chicken salad and as a dip for cut veggies. I love the added crunch that the poppy seeds give it. But hey, if you don’t like poppy seeds, or can’t find them, leave ’em out. It won’t change the taste of the vinaigrette that much. They’re more of a texture thing in this recipe.

So break out of your lettuce salad rut and add some sliced citrus to your winter salads. Not only will it make them prettier, it will bump up the healthy factor by giving you a much needed boost of vitamin C this time of year.

Bright and Cheery Watercress Citrus Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
Prep time
Total time
A watercress citrus salad to help put a little sunshine in those cold winter days.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
  • For Salad
  • Large Handful of Watercress
  • 1 Cara Cara Orange
  • 1 Blood Orange
  • 2 Tablespoons Pistachios (shelled and crushed)
  • For Strawberry Vinaigrette
  • 1 Cup Strawberries (thawed if using frozen)
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon (or grainy) Mustard
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds
  1. For Salad
  2. Slice the skin and pith off of both oranges and cut width-wise across oranges to form circles.
  3. Arrange watercress and orange slices on large platter.
  4. Sprinkle pistachios over watercress and oranges.
  5. For Strawberry Vinaigrette
  6. Add all ingredients, except for the poppy seeds, into a blender and puree until smooth.
  7. Pour mixture into a small bowl and mix in poppy seeds.
  8. Spoon over salad.
  9. Store remaining strawberry vinaigrette in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to a week.
You could use almost any salad green in this citrus salad if you don't like or don't have watercress. Arugula would give you the same kind of peppery flavor as watercress.


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1 comment

Belinda @zomppa January 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

It’s crazy about this epidemic – this burst of citrus adds some needed vitamin C and reminder of warmer days!

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