Impressive Simplicity in an Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans

Sometimes I get into trouble with you my gentle readers because I don’t always do “wow” recipes. What I mean is seared scallops can knock it out of the park and many people are cruising the blogs looking for those iconic images to satisfy their tastiest food fantasies. So in my heart, I know today’s Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans will surely be a disappointment for those of you looking for truly inspired, gastro-molecular, gravity-defying-stacks of food. But my wallet (and my blood sugar) can’t afford to enjoy these treats on a daily basis.

I also know that several of you nice folks are gonna leave me sweet messages saying how you think all my recipes are “wow”.  To those of you so inclined, I’ll say “Thank You” in advance for those kind words, but there’s really no need to pat my ego this way. Because, as much as I love bringing on the wow-factor every once and again, I honestly enjoy real food and real life here just as much as anything.

That is why Sippity Sup is often about fresh takes on the familiar. My recipes tend to be simple, modern and colorful, though they have their roots in traditional styles. I find myself attracted to presentations that highlight some aspect of cooking, or perhaps a particular flavor or an ingredient that I love. I am drawn to simple pairings of diverse flavors. I draw on other cultures, but I am a slave to none. I think we should eat healthy, but I prefer classic techniques using real ingredients. Including real fats. I think that a bold hand and a deft palate allow the simple beauty of food to shine. Sometimes what’s not in a recipe can be every bit as important as what is.

avocado watercress salad with green beansWhich is why I have chosen this Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans. It’s fresh and seasonal. It has just a few common ingredients; each one chosen to augment the other. While, it’s true that this is “just a salad” I like to think that it is in no way boring. Because you don’t need to switch into zombie mode every time you make a green salad. A salad does not have to limit itself to tomatoes and carrots.

Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans

Take this salad; nary a lettuce leaf to be found. But it’s a winning combination nonetheless. It has diverse textures and bold flavors. The creamy avocados are a wonderful counterpoint to the crunch and snap of barely cooked green beans. Cucumber adds a certain coolness to the mouth that further enhances these great textures. Lots of lemon and mint make the flavors bright, but the peppery bite of watercress keeps it from getting too cloying and sweet.

Now I am no genius, and that’s my point. Think about the foods you are putting together. You needn’t always look to classic combinations on well-trod paths. Be bold, follow your instincts– put together uncomplicated, fresh ingredients that please the palate as well as they eye! Because sometimes the simplest of ingredients, showcased in an unexpected or thoughtful manner can be the most impressive. Give your reader a moment to think, “Aha! That’s so easy, why didn’t I think of that?”

Which doesn’t mean you won’t find a perfect sliver of seared goose liver resting on toasted brioche and served alongside a dollop of pineapple and pink peppercorn chutney right here on these pages sometime soon. Because my interests and tastes are diverse. I find joy in the simplicity of good food as well as the drama of true gastronomy. So keep coming back. I always want to keep you guessing.

Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1 large ripe, creamy acocado, such as hass
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for boiling water
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed
  • 1/2 c whole mint leaves, loosely packed
  • lemon wedges as garnish

watercress green bean and avocado saladPrepare an ice water bath; set aside.

Halve, peel and pit the avocado, cutting it into 1/2″ chunks. Put the avocado into a serving bowl large enough for the finished salad. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil until well emulsified and creamy. Pour the mixture over the avocado and toss them until well coated so they do not discolor.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt. Blanch the green beans until tender-crisp, 4–5 minutes. Immediately transfer them to the ice-bath to stop cooking. Drain well, and add them to the bowl with the avocado, followed the cucumber slices, watercress, and mint leaves. Gently toss until the salad is evenly dressed. Season with salt and pepper and serve with additional lemon wedges.

Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans


Greg Henry