Carrot and Watercress Salad with Orange Blossom Water

carrot watercress salad on table

Pin It

As quickly as it arrived it was gone. Last week it rained for one day; that morning the skies were a dark stormy grey and rain poured down for most of the day with an intensity that seemed to finally signal an official start to fall.

Being somewhat resistant to change, my heart still longed for summer, for all its light and brightness, but I felt finally ready to welcome the cooler weather and cozier days. I’d changed my mind, call me fickle, but I was now feeling somewhat enamored with fall and all the magnificent sunset shades of the season.


Only a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that I was ready. Now I thought to myself, this would be the time to start revisiting those classic cold-weather comfort foods, to curl up in a blanket with a warm cup of tea and enjoy the sound of rain tapping on the windows, and therefore the sound of water rushing was a welcoming one.

That day socks and a sweater were put on with a shiver and I found myself ambling through the house, my gaze falling on the rain streaked windows each time I passed by. It was grey and gloomy, and I loved it. It surprised me, but I liked sleeping with socks on and waking up to a chilly room the next morning.

It was settled, fall was here and I was looking to make something warm and comforting; except that it wasn’t, at least not for long. Just as quickly as the rain had arrived, the sunshine elbowed its way back in and my plans for soup and heartier fare were quickly thwarted.


And so, this past weekend the sun shining above, lunch was back outside; a simple salad of carrots with watercress and orange blossom water, bright as summer, yet with the earthy spiciness of cooler weather to come.

Bursting at the seams with all sorts of assorted vitamins and minerals, the humble carrot is so tried and true that it has sadly become ordinary. Perhaps the problem is that we have become so accustomed to eating them raw and unadorned as snacks that we seldom think to embellish them.

Here a leafy tumble of crisp watercress serves as a bed for cumin scented carrots in a fragrant orange blossom dressing and is punctuated with crunchy marcona almonds and green olives.

Carrot and Watercress Salad in Bowl

The cumin adds an earthiness to the carrots, while the orange blossom water lends a bright floral kiss. The key to this salad is to allow some time for the flavors of the cooked carrots and dressing to mellow and marry.

By the time I sat down to eat, I was almost pleased with fall for having duped me.

RECIPE: Carrot and Watercress Salad with Orange Blossom Water Dressing


  • 2 small bunches of carrots, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch of watercress, washed and dried
  • ½ cup/ 100g oil-cured pitted green olives, halved or quartered depending on size
  • ¼ cup/ 30g salted marcona almonds
  • For the Cumin & Orange Blossom Dressing
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely smashed
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large wide shallow pan of water to the boil, adding ½ teaspoon salt. Add whole carrots and simmer about 6 to 8 minutes or until just tender but still firm. Refresh under cold running water. Drain well.
  2. In the meantime make the cumin & orange blossom dressing. Combine the cumin, olive oil, white wine vinegar, smashed garlic and orange blossom water in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Place the cooked carrots in serving bowl with the dressing (reserving some for later) and toss gently until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours to develop the flavors.
  4. In a large bowl toss the fresh parsley and watercress with the remaining dressing until just combined. Add the carrots and gently combine. Top with chopped green olives and macron almonds and serve immediately.


Prepare this recipe up to the point of dressing the carrots 1 day ahead reserving some dressing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Add the parsley and watercress and reserved dressing to the carrots just before serving and top with olives and almonds.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 8 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 4

Copyright © 2010-2011 gourmande in the kitchen.

What are some of your favorite ways to eat carrots?


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says

    I’m a real summer person so still not sure whether I want autumn to arrive properly….! This looks like the perfect transition dish – light enough for warmer weather but with the robust flavours of carrot and nuts. Beautiful photos and post, as always 🙂

  2. says

    What a beautifully written post, and stunning photos of carrots and this unique salad to go along. You’re right, carrots don’t get the attention they deserve – this salad certainly puts them center stage.

  3. says

    we had a false start too…snow and freezing rain on Saturday and today the high is in the 70s with big sunny skies! regardless i’m just happy to have the versatility in the weather and a go-to salad like this one to have when it’s beautiful out!

  4. says

    I’d be happy with even a false start in our desert here in Dubai. Haven’t seen a drop of rain since last year! Very refreshing sounding dressing with blossom water….wonder how it would taste with roasted carrots?!

  5. says

    GORGEOUS Sylvie! I wish you’d come to my house and teach me how to use my camera. 🙂 The carrot salad is going to be on my table tonight. I have an abundance of carrots in the garden still and this is just the ticket. Love it.


  6. says

    I am with you – i am a summer person and can’t let go – i dont like the cold or the dark nights, but then i can’t find a place to live where these are four seasons warm summers no snow during winter and close to mountains and water. . .gorgeous salad.

  7. says

    We had some amazingly warm weather here too this past weekend. So much so, we actually went to the beach. In October! Could have used your lovely fresh salad for dinner.

  8. says

    Your photos are stunning, as usual. We too had an unusual bout of cool weather, making me SO ready for fall. Unfortunately it is supposed to creep back up near 100 in the next few days. Oh well 🙂 This salad sounds delicious.

  9. says

    i’ve been making quite a few recipes with carrots lately Sylvie – as you said, most people think of carrots as an afterthought but good carrots, really good carrots are wonderful!

  10. says

    I was ready for fall a month ago – but temps have popped back into the 80s with lots of humidity (though I think todays rain will break that). These carrots are beautiful and the entire salad sounds amazing.

  11. says

    I would never have thought of using orange blossom water in a salad – I always use it in desserts. A very creative way to use it – I’ll have to try it out!

  12. says

    Absolutely beautiful, Sylvie! And although anticipating the cooler weather is wonderful, so is the shot of unexpected warmth. This is a salad my wife would love.

  13. Diane (createdbydiane) says

    Just had orange water this weekend, was great. Can’t wait to make this. No sign of Fall here it was 98 degrees today

  14. says

    Sensational vivid colors! Like you it takes time for me to adjust to Fall – I love spring and summer. Fall always reminds me of what lies behind it – Winter!
    This salad is a great way to welcome Fall!

  15. says

    I love fall too, Sylvie…one wonders why I live in Florida! We won’t get our fall for a month or so, although we had a slight taste of it last week. Just the lack of humidity helps.
    Your carrot salad is bright, healthy and the flavors sound wonderful!

  16. says

    Sylvie you can give me the fall and this salad any time! The orange blossom water is the perfect touch to highlight these fresh ingredients. Stunning!

  17. says

    I have a wonderful orange vinaigrette so now I must try your orange flower water one. Gorgeous salad that would bring sunshine even to a cold, rainy day… and stunning photos as always.

  18. says

    What a lovely combo of flavors! I especially love macron almonds and can imagine them to add a nice texture to the salad. Now I just need to hunt for orange blossom water! Strange weather we’ve been having in So. Cal these past few weeks….last week it was over 90, then the fog came rolling in on Friday and were back to somewhat normal temps…

  19. says

    Hello Sylvie, The carrot salad plus watercress is looking awesome, so fresh and healthy, wow… ! Loved the pictures.I’ve bookmarked this special recipe of urs and wud love to give it a shot asap. Have a wonderful week ahead. Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

  20. says

    Gorgeous salad. Fall or summer I would have this anytime.

    Of course I always love your photos and now I’m in even more awe of your skills. I find orange one of the hardest colors to photograph. It always seems to take on this glowing, radioactive like effect when I shoot.

  21. says

    When I was little I lived off carrots and cheese sandwiches. It caused my parents endless worry but it was my love affair with carrots and not theirs. The point is your photo is stunning and would look gorgeous in my kitchen, making my heart swoon daily.