Watercress and Forbidden Rice Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

Watercress and Forbidden Rice Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette - cookieandkate.com

Sometime between when I left for San Antonio and now, the grass is green again. It’s like I blinked and the ground came alive. I noticed this while Cookie and I were on a nice long walk after work today. While she tried to chase after every bird and squirrel in sight, steering me around like a bumblebee on a string, I observed the springtime show. Cheery yellow daffodils have popped up to say hello, and ordinarily humble forsythia is putting on a show with its graceful, arching golden branches. Spring is here!

black rice and celery
I really love going on walks with Cookie, my tireless companion. Before I had a dog, I zoomed around on my bicycle for exercise, which I still love doing, but everything looks different at a slow pace. I notice things I probably wouldn’t if I were biking, and would definitely miss while driving. I get some of my best ideas while we’re walking, and I composed this post in my head while we were out earlier.

green onion
I’ve realized that I love food photography for a similar reason. Cooking takes longer when I have to pause and snap photos; it forces me to slow down and find the beauty in the steps and ingredients. I notice and appreciate the subtle striping on a green onion stalk, for instance, and the delicate bend in leaves of watercress. Food photography makes me stop and smell the roses, if you will.


I adapted this pretty salad from a recipe I learned at an Asian seafood cooking class last month. Chef Forster created it as a side salad for salmon, but I turned it into a more filling dish by adding forbidden rice and edamame. He added chopped celery for fun since celery is new in Asia and booming in popularity. Celery! A novelty! Who knew?! While I generally skip celery sticks on those boring, ubiquitous veggie platters, I feel that chopped celery is totally underrated in salads. It adds such a great crunch and flavor to mixed salads like this one (and this one).

edamame and watercress

This salad is light and refreshing, crisp and tender and crunchy all at once. The predominantly green colors are broken up by chopped orange bell pepper, which seems just right for this time of year even though bell peppers are out of season. My pale legs are out of season, too, but that didn’t stop me from striding along in short shorts today. Oh who am I kidding, my legs are a perpetual shade of pale.

ginger vinaigrette
If time allows, make the dressing ahead of time so the garlic and ginger have time to bloom. The vinaigrette is plenty flavorful but doesn’t overpower the vegetables.

healthy watercress salad

Watercress and Forbidden Rice Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Ginger Vinaigrette
  • 1 inch nub of ginger, grated or finely chopped (grate it on a Microplane and you won’t have to peel it!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup quality peanut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2½ teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar
  • big pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 big bunch watercress, very roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 to 3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped (include both white and green parts)
  • 1½ cups shelled edamame (I used frozen)
  • 1½ cups cooked forbidden rice or wild rice (use ¾ cup rice to 1½ cup water)
  1. Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together well, and set it aside. Make the dressing in advance (preferably an hour or more, but at least as soon as you start cooking your rice) in order to give the garlic and ginger time to bloom.
  2. Rinse the rice in a mesh colander and then cook it in a rice cooker, according to your manufacturer’s instructions and the volumes given above. Alternatively, you can cook it on the stove. Pour 1½ cups of water into a pot and bring it a boil over high heat. Rinse the rice, then add it to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook until all water is absorbed (35-40 minutes). If it gets too dry, add a splash or more of water as necessary. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Cook the edamame. Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour in frozen edamame. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the edamame is warmed through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and set the edamame aside to cool.
  4. Toss all of the prepared produce in a big bowl. Once the edamame and rice have cooled, add them to the bowl and toss. Whisk your dressing one more time and pour into the bowl, and toss well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Recipe adapted from Chef Bill Forster's cooking class.
Serving suggestions: Serves 3 to 4 as a light main dish or 6 as a side.
Make it gluten free: Use tamari instead of regular soy sauce.
Make it nut free: Use either olive oil or vegetable oil rather than the peanut oil.
Storage suggestions: Stored in the refrigerator, this salad will last for one to two days.
I erroneously called the rice I used wild rice. It’s actually forbidden rice, but I think wild rice would be lovely as well.


  1. says

    I know exactly what you mean about having a dog and noticing things that you’d normally miss being outside. My puggle likes to stop and smell everything, which also means I stop and actually take in my surroundings. Definitely one of the many perks of having a dog. :)

    Beautiful photography and your recipe sounds fantastic!

  2. says

    WOAH! We have some serious ESP…My post today is all about walking and how it helps generate ideas, and how I’ve just now noticed Spring..I’m a little speechless! Anywhoo…on the weekends, I love to ride my bike, but I must agree that the slow pace of walking allows me to see things much more closely, and be more attuned to the world around me. Beautiful looking salad!

  3. Sarah says

    That salad looks delicious! One of my favorite things to do is walk the dog in the summer evenings. I love looking at everyone else’s gardens and talking with my sister.

  4. says

    Such a pretty salad indeed babe! So electric! must make this for my mom when I’m out visiting with her next week. We’ll probably be on a cute mother daughter health kick as always, and I have a feeling she’s going to adore this one. Then I’ll show her a snap of cookie, have her melt, and then understand why I crush on cookie and kate so so much. :) enjoy these beautiful days! And lovely as always. xo. sb

  5. says

    This recipe sounds so perfect for gathering up all the elements of spring. I feel the same way when walking my dog, a much greater appreciation for things that I otherwise would’ve driven right past. I also feel you on the pale legs thing, I’m pretty sure I blinded people on the local bike trail on my run today.

  6. says

    Your photos are top notch here. Really enjoyable. I’ve been dog walking a weimaraner puppy for 10 months now and have never had a better reason to walk in the cold. Best part of the morning. You’re about the world slowing down when you’re not racing through it on a bike.

  7. says

    I love walks… It’s one of those under appreciated workouts… I am guilty of always thinking about doing an activity that’s going to give me a better workout, so I choose to run, hike up the local mountain trail, or read while walking on the tread to save time. But by doing these, I forget how beautiful outdoor walks are, it allows me to reorient myself, see everything, and really enjoy what I’m doing. Thanks for confirming this. Your pictures are lovely and so is this salad.

  8. says

    I love salads like this once the spring first comes on. There may not be lettuces yet, but there’s always sprouts, shoots and cress galore. I like how you made it hearty with the edamame and rice too! And I love food photography for the same reason! Working in kitchens, I’m always pushing through to just get it done, but at home I savour those quiet and gratifying cooking moments. Capturing them is a nice reminder of why I love being in the kitchen.

  9. says

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that sweet comment! I’m glad to have discovered your blog — it’s absolutely gorgeous! This recipe looks fantastic, packed full of flavor and nutrition.

  10. says

    Funny, I just had some ginger vinaigrette last week that was so very good that I wanted to make it myself. Now I have a template to work from. Thanks!

  11. says

    This salad is beautiful Kate! I really need to get a dog. I used to walk all the time, but now I’m mostly on my bike, still not a bad thing, but I do miss those long moments you have to just think while you’re walking.

  12. S.C. says

    your stuff is shot beautifully and I can’t wait to try many of your recipes. your blog rocks, thanks so much for your efforts. i hate to to get all pedantic, but the rice in your lovely salad looks more like black or forbidden rice, rather than wild rice. forbidden rice would have a nutty sweetness that would be awesome with the other listed ingredients. i’ve got the black rice in the cooker now and my husband’s gone to the market for the things that i missing for your yummy looking salad. i hope mine turns out as pretty as yours.

    • says

      Thanks for setting me straight, S.C.! Forbidden rice sounds right. I bought that rice at a bulk bin, who knows where, and forgot to label it. I’ve corrected the post!

  13. says

    I am so jealous you have a dog to take on walks! My building doesn’t allow them but the next place I move to I am making sure it is animal-friendly :) On another note, this salad is gorgeous and so is your photography (as usual)!

  14. says

    I swear, there is nothing with a fresher taste than watercress. I need to start using more of this … thanks for sharing! Beautiful work!

  15. says

    Love edamame, love forbidden rice and love watercress. This looks so amazing ,I can’t wait to try it!!! Pictures are beautiful!!!

  16. says

    kate; what a beautiful post; love the photographs and looking forward to making this salad. Every friday the Lotus Foods Team chooses a recipe of the week to make for lunch and yours wins hands down. Thanks and we hope you will try some of our other delicious and nutritious whole grain rices like Bhutanese Red Rice and Volcano Rice.

  17. Samme says

    I absolutely love this salad! I just made it for my work “lunch club” and it was definitely a success. I added avocado (of course) and I think shrimp would also be good in it.

    Thanks, Kate :)

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