Tame the peppery tousled watercress with the creaminess of the avocado and the distinct umami flavours of the ponzu salad dressing. This Gem Avocado Salad is a crazy easy salad that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes!
Why I Love Gem Avocado and Watercress Salad
One of the greatest joys of being able to create new salads regularly is that it allows us to explore and experiment with new or unusual ingredients.
I love being able to work with produce I may not be so familiar with and marrying them with different flavours. No, they don’t always work out, but that’s all part of the learning process.
I thoroughly enjoyed being introduced to the Gem avocado and nothing more satisfying than discovering how delicious this fruit is.
It’s creamy textures and nutty flavours complemented the watercress perfectly. And when tossed through with my umami Ponzu salad dressing, I knew I had a winner!
What is Gem Avocado?
Move over Hass; we have a new kid on the block! A new variety of avocado, the Gem avocado is a patented fruit grown only by licensed growers in Australia and dispersed by selected distributors such as All Aussie Farmers.
Gem avocados are pear or teardrop shaped that possesses a thick, gold-flecked black skin caused by the prominent yellow lenticels. Its flesh is very creamy and possesses a rich, nutty and buttery flavour.
According to Avocado Farm Advice: Gem avocado came about as a result of the University of California Riverside’s avocado-breeding program.
A particularly promising seedling, called ‘3-29-5’, was selected from a Californian test orchard and named after one of the selectors, Gray E Martin (initials GEM). The first 3-29-5 trees were top-worked in 1992 at UCR’s South Coast Research Centre. From 2003, applications were filed for Gem avocados to be grown outside of the USA.
Lucky for us in Australia, we’re able to get our hands on these glorious avocados!
What is Watercress?
One of the oldest salad greens around, watercress is an aquatic leafy vegetable. They grow in shallow water and belong to the same family as mustard.
The leaves of the watercress are small, round and a darker shade of green.
The stems, when fresh, are crunchy and most definitely edible. But they do get a bit tough when it’s matured so be sure to select them when they are young.
What Does Watercress Taste Like?
When eaten raw, watercress is refreshing and has peppery notes. This hot peppery taste comes from the mustard oil in the vegetable that stimulates the taste buds.
Despite its peppery flavours, however, watercress has a cooling effect when consumed giving us hot and cold finishes in one mouthful!
When cooked, the peppery flavours are completely toned down and you get a distinct vegetable flavour which is perfect when cooked through with other strong elements.
How to Eat Watercress?
I grew up on watercress soup. In Chinese culture, all our soups are broth-based, so the watercress is cooked through in its natural form and not blended or pureed like a classic French watercress soup.
The stems and leaves soften tremendously, a stark contrast to its crazy blob of entangled stem and leaves. They can also be simply stir-fried with some minced garlic and enjoyed with some hot fluffy white rice.
In salads, I, of course, enjoy them raw. In this salad, I loved it in its natural form. I wanted this peppery chaos heaped on a plate with its stems and leaves poking over the plate in a jungle mess.
I have also used a watercress just for its leaves as I wanted a more delicate finish. Many people use the leaves, which are like green flower petals as a garnish. But that’s such a waste of a delicious vegetable in my book!
You may also like our Apple, Pear, Almond and Watercress Salad.
How to Make Gem Avocado and Watercress Salad
How to Make the Salad
Cut the avocado in half, peel off the skin and discard the stone. Slice each half vertically into thin slices.
In a small fry pan, dry toast the nigella seeds for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
Coat the pepitas with tamari. Baste a sheet pan with ¼ tsp of olive oil. Spread out the pepitas on the sheet pan and place in the oven for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
How to Make the Ponzu Dressing
In a small mixing bowl, add the ponzu sauce, rice vinegar olive oil and sesame oil.
Whisk until well combined.
How to Assemble Gem Avocado Salad
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the watercress and ½ the ponzu salad dressing. Season with pepper to taste and toss.
Place the watercress on a plate. Let it overflow for a messy, jungle-like look.
Place the sliced avocado on the plate with the inside up.
Sprinkle the nigella seeds and tamari pepitas all over the salad.
Add the rest of the ponzu dressing all over the salad.
Season with pepper to taste.
How easy was that! This is one of those salads that relies heavily on the natural goodness of its ingredients and it speaks for itself.
This watercress avocado salad is great when you don’t have a lot of time, but you know you need something fresh and easy on the side.
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Gem Avocado and Watercress Salad
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- Cut the avocado in half, peel off the skin and discard the stone. Slice each half vertically into thin slices.
- In a small fry pan, dry toast the nigella seeds for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.Coat the pepitas with tamari. Baste a sheet pan with ¼ tsp of olive oil. Spread out the pepitas on the sheet pan and place in the oven for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the ponzu sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil and sesame oil.Whisk until well combined.
- Whisk until well combined.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the watercress and ½ the ponzu salad dressing. Season with pepper to taste and toss.
- Place the watercress on a plate. Let it overflow for a messy, jungle-like look.
- Place the sliced avocado on the plate with the inside up.
- Sprinkle the nigella seeds and tamari pepitas all over the salad.
- Add the rest of the ponzu dressing all over the salad.
- Season with pepper to taste.
- A good nigella seed substitute is cumin seeds or oregano seeds. You could use black sesame seeds too. The flavours are different but would work perfectly for this salad.
- You can substitute pepitas with sunflower seeds.
- You can get ponzu sauce and rice vinegar in the Asian section of your supermarket or an Asian grocer. If you have a Japanese grocer nearby, that would be your best bet.
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