Watercress sauce is very easy to make with just three ingredients, so you can make this in minutes with no cooking involved.
Perfect as a sauce for salmon, or other fish, this vibrant and creamy sauce really does taste as good as it looks!
It's simple to customise this sauce too, by using different herbs so you can enjoy it with salads, vegetables and meats as a dressing, or even a dip.
I grew up in Hampshire, in the south of England, and we would often visit the town of Alresford which is famous for its watercress beds. In Victorian times watercress became very popular for its health benefits and the train route to London is still known today as the Watercress Line, as it used to take the freshly harvested watercress to London to be sold at Covent Garden.
In Great Britain it has always been a popular leafy vegetable and watercress sandwiches were often eaten by poorer people as it was readily available growing naturally near water.
Watercress has a peppery taste, similar to mustard cress and it has a juicy crunch too. It is delicious in poached (or tinned), salmon sandwiches, and it makes a perfect soup too.
You need just 3 ingredients!
- Watercress - normally found loose in bags in the salad section of most supermarkets.
- Lemon - unwaxed lemon as you will need both the zest and juice in this recipe.
- Crème fraîche - full fat or reduced fat is fine.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Blender or food processor with a medium bowl - optional for speed.
- Large chopping knife.
- Microplane grater - or use the side of a box grater where there are tiny holes punched out. A small handheld grater designed for Parmesan cheese also works.
- Lemon squeezer - or just cut the lemon in half and squeeze it over a sieve to catch the pips.
- Large chopping board.
It's easy to make the watercress sauce with just a knife or with a blender.
To make it by hand put the watercress in a big pile on a large board.
Chop it into small pieces like chopped herbs. It's easiest to do this with a large knife across the board, then gather the chopped watercress into a pile and chop again, until you are happy with the results.
Zest the lemon and juice it.
Mix the watercress, lemon and crème fraîche together in a large bowl.
💭 Top tip
- Divide the watercress in half and cut each batch separately to save time and effort.
To make the sauce in a blender, start by roughly chopping the watercress into smaller pieces. If you put it in the blender without chopping it tends to spin around but not evenly chop.
Next add the the watercress, lemon juice and zest to the blender and process until the consistency is right for you.
💭 Top tip
- To get better control when blending or using a food processor it's easier to pulse the ingredients a few times rather than leaving it on constantly. You may also need to use a spatula to push the mixture down so that it is evenly blended.
Tip the sauce into a presentation bowl and a few watercress leaves for garnish.
Since crème fraîche won't split or curdle when heated you can also put the mixture in a saucepan to heat if you are serving it with hot fish. It is best to heat it just enough and take it off the heat so that the sauce keeps its green colour.
🥗 Great with
Although delicious, this watercress sauce for salmon is great with other dishes too!
- Hot salmon - hot salmon dishes such as baked lemon side of salmon or honey garlic salmon.
- Cold salmon - cold poached salmon or salmon gravlax
- Shellfish - delicious with pan fried prawns or scallops or served with cold prawns in a salad.
- Leftover chicken or beef - use the sauce in sandwiches or salads such as a warm steak salad.
- Vegetables - use the sauce as a dip for carrots, strips of peppers, celery and breadsticks.
- Cod - or other fish such as haddock, pollack, monkfish or hake. Simply bake in foil and serve with the sauce.
- Crème fraîche - soured cream, natural yogurt or quark can be used instead if you are making a cold sauce.
- Watercress - try swapping the watercress for herbs such as tarragon or parsley for chicken or fish. For steak, make a blue cheese sauce. Chop some Stilton or other blue cheese and gently heat with the crème fraîche until the cheese melts. Delicious!
Store the sauce in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.
This sauce is not suitable for freezing.
Watercress is a nutrient dense leafy green which is full of antioxidents and low in calories. It is rich in vitamin A (via beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains a variety of phytochemicals including glucosinolates, lutein, flavonoids and hydroxycinammic acids.
It's definitely a super food!
- Large knife
- Chopping board
- Blender or food processor (optional)
- Lemon squeezer (optional)
- 170 g watercress normally 2 bags
- 1 lemon unwaxed
- 300 ml creme fraiche
- Zest and juice the lemon.
- Finely chop the watercress.
- Combine the creme fraiche, lemon juice, zest and watercress in a bowl.
- Rough chop the watercress then add to the blender with the lemon juice, zest and creme fraiche.
- Pulse to get to the required consistency.
- Heat gently in a saucepan if liked.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended'
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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