mandarin orange watercress salad vintage style
Salads, Vintage Meets Modern Recipes

Peppery Watercress Orange Salad Vintage Style Recipe


This vintage-inspired peppery watercress Mandarin orange salad is slamming! So easy to toss together with a Dijon lemon juice dressing that adds some zip to the watercress salad. This salad is such a cinch, and so low-calorie it’s great summer food! What are you waiting for? Toss one of these salads together for a great side dish with grilled meats and seafood. 

Growing up in a family with a British background meant watercress sandwiches were something that we had on occasion. I personally love a tea sandwich of watercress and cucumber. The peppery flavor of the watercress is reminiscent of nasturtiums if you’re familiar with those. It’s a flavor that can be intense if you need to get used to it. If you aren’t familiar with it, add a little to your next spring mix salad to experiment. 

Back in Britain, the popular watercress was a favorite of the working class. Likely because spices cost extra, this small greenleaf brought such a flavor punch all on its own. It’s a flavorful burst of spritely flavors when paired with the mandarin orange segments in this easy salad. The crunchy almond slices add a bit of nuttiness, an excellent respite from the pepper flavor.

I love this vintage-inspired side salad with a grilled meat dish. It’s low-calorie, offers plenty of freshness, and is lighter. 

If you love salads, you will love this basic garden salad, perfect for beginners and as a stand-by-easy recipe.


Let’s not waste time; we can toss this easily together for today’s dinner.

The first thing you need to do is locate some watercress in your local grocer. It’s not so easy where I live; in fact, only one store still carries it. Thankfully its cost is comparable to other green-leaf vegetables, so it will stay within your grocery budget. This leafy green is packed with vitamins and minerals; this superfood is an excellent add-in to salads and sandwiches. The thing to watch for is freshness. You want lovely crisp green leaves, not yellowing. 

Once you have your watercress, it’s time to wash it thoroughly and remove any leaves that look less than stellar. This can be done relatively quickly. Pat the watercress dry gently with some paper towel and add it to your salad bowl. 

You will want to open and drain the mandarin orange segments. Next, you will want to measure the almonds out. I like to use sliced almonds because they look so pretty with the oranges on top of the leaves. You can use whole or slivered if you prefer. Toss the two ingredients into your salad bowl with the cress. 

The last most complicated part is making the simple lemon juice and dijon dressing. You will need to juice a whole fresh lemon. I don’t like the ‘real lemon’ juice in bottles because it doesn’t offer the same zesty flavor as a natural lemon. However, it will do in a pinch if it’s all you have on hand. Remove the lemon seeds from the juice if any sneak in there. Add one teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the lemon juice and one tablespoon of natural raw local honey. 

Note: Honey purchased in the grocery store is often over-processed and not actual. Read the honey labels to buy locally produced honey, as the pollen collected from local plants can help boost your immune system. Honey is a great food source and sweetener, so don’t skimp your grocery budget here. Another good point about quality honey is it has an unlimited shelf life, so you don’t have to worry that you won’t use it up in ‘time.’

I used local raw honey. The trick is to make sure the salad dressing is well blended; you can use a small whisk to mix it well.

After you’ve mixed the dressing thoroughly, drizzle over the cress salad and then toss to coat everything in the juices from the orange segments and your dijon dressing. Be sure to chill the salad in the fridge before serving. Mandarin orange always tastes so much better when nice and cold. 

This salad will keep for a day or two in the fridge beyond that and the cress will become soggy.

Looking for a few ideas to switch up this salad?

  • Instead of sliced almonds, you can use whole, slivered walnuts and/or pecans.
  • You can add some spring mixed greens to lighten the peppery flavor of the cress.
  • Not a fan of Mandarin oranges? That’s okay; add in mango, peaches, or nectarines instead. 


Expert Tips:

  1. Be sure to purchase a watercress that isn’t yellowing. Keep it refrigerated until use, and seal the remaining watercress in an airtight bag to maintain freshness. 
  2. A good rule of thumb is thoroughly washing your cress, even if the bag says it’s been prewashed. You can pat dry with a paper towel before use. 
  3. You can grow your watercress quickly enough at home indoors if you can’t source it locally. 
watercress orange salad

Peppery Watercress Mandarin Salad Vintage Style Recipe

Amber Bondar
This simple to prepare peppery watercress vintage style salad with mandarins and sliced almonds is so light and refreshing. Packed full of flavor this easy salad with a honey Dijon dressing goes great with grilled meats and seafood.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 6


  • 1 Salad Bowl
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • 1 Measuring Spoon
  • Paper Towel optional


Watercress Salad

  • 1 Bag Watercress Approx 4 cups of cress
  • ¼ Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1 250ml Mandarin Orange Segments Canned

Honey Dijon Salad Dressing

  • 1 Whole Lemon Juiced
  • 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Real Honey


  • Wash and sort watercress removing any spent leaves.
  • Pat the watercress dry with paper towels and add to mixing bowl.
  • Measure and add in the sliced almonds.
  • Drain the canned Mandarin oranges. Add to salad.
  • Mix the lemon juice, mustard, and honey together well with a whisk.
  • Drizzle over the cress salad and toss to coat.
  • Refrigerate until chilled before serving.
Keyword almond, orange, salad, watercress

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