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Watercress Salad with Roasted Beets and Parsnips Recipe

Contributors: Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FAND

Published: March 31, 2014

Watercress Salad
Rebecca Clyde MS, RDN, CD

French cuisine is well-known for delicately dressed salads made with garden-fresh greens, a rainbow of other vegetables, artisan cheese, and the occasional sprinkle of nuts. With their ruby red color, roasted beets offer a sweet, earthy flavor to salads; add the nutty-sweet flavor roasted parsnips as complement. Beets offer more than color and flavor – they're also packed with health-promoting phytonutrients.


2 medium parsnips, stem and root ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 to 4 medium (about 12 ounces) beetroots, stem and root ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
3 cups chopped watercress
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
¼ cup crumbled chèvre cheese (goat cheese)
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
Freshly-ground black pepper, if desired


Before you begin: Wash your hands.

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Toss the parsnips in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread on one end of a 13-by-9-inch rimmed baking pan or in a smaller rimmed baking pan.
  3. Toss the beetroots in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread on the other end of rimmed baking pan (with the parsnips), or in a smaller rimmed baking pan. If using one pan, keep the parsnips and beets separate to retain the parsnips' creamy white color.
  4. Season the parsnips and beets with salt and black pepper.
  5. Cover the pan(s) with foil. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the parsnips and beets are tender. Remove foil; set aside to cool.
  6. To make the dressing, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sugar in a small bowl; whisk to blend the ingredients. Mix in the mint.
  7. Put the watercress, beetroots, cheese and walnuts in a medium salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the top. Toss gently. Season with freshly-ground pepper, if desired.

Cooking Note

  • Crisp, vibrant beet greens, which have not been trimmed from beetroots, can be prepared as a side dish, similar to spinach or Swiss chard. Remove leaves from the stems; cut the stems in 1- to 2-inch pieces. Sauté them in olive oil with garlic and lemon juice. Beet greens are a rich source of vitamins A and C.

Nutrition Information

Serves 4

Calories: 250; Calories from fat: 160; Total fat: 18g; Saturated fat: 4g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 5mg; Sodium: 270mg; Total carbohydrate: 20g; Dietary fiber: 4g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 6g

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