Watercress Salad with Candied Pecans and Spicy Avocado Dressing

So your probably thinking, Well there you are salad! Where have you been hiding? If you don’t mind I will answer for the salad and say that the salad has been in hiding due to the fact that the photographer (that’s me) has yet to be able to take a great picture of a salad that truly translates the yumminess and shear goodness of the green leafy vegetable dish onto a picture for all the world to see. That is until now. In all the “spare” time I have I am trying to learn a little more about food photography and after finishing a chapter on lighting and composition, I decided to give my newly found wisdom a run for its money by trying to capture, in my opinion, one of the hardest dishes to photograph- A Salad.

I wanted something but filling but still light and fresh yet earthy. Instead of the usual romaine lettuce I thought it would be fun to use the watercress I am growing in my vegetable garden. Yep! I am a garden-a-holic now planting everything from tomatoes, watercress, spinach, bell peppers, strawberries, onions and garlic (and much more). Below are a few fun pics of my veggies with hopefully more to come!

My dad always brings us a huge stash of pecans during the winter that he picks up in their yard so being the smart gal that I am, I “made” hubby remove the shells during the winter months when LSU football was over and golf had yet to begin. He was bored and I had a plan! lOl! This brings me to the pecans in the salad. I knew we were going to have bread with the salad so I didn’t want to use croutons; however, I still wanted and needed that extra crunch I love so much in my greens. I sprinkled my little pecan babies with some white and brown sugar and caramelized them in the oven until perfectly sweet and crispy. I added a few dried cranberries along with the pecans to the salad and it was PERFECT!

Now the real star of the dish is not the pecans or my homegrown watercress but the very special Avocado Dressing making its appearance for the first time here on Kitchen Belleicious. Dreamy, heavenly, sweet but salty and simply fresh. What more can I say about the most spectacular dressing that has ever graced the pages of this blog (okay maybe the first and only dressing but still:)). I got the idea because I had some ripened avocados that needed to be used and instead of slicing the avocado and layering it around the salad plate (what I typically do) I thought it would be fun to try something different. The husband doesn’t like this salad dressing I bought called Spinach Salad (yes, weird but that is the name of it) and since I love it so much and continue to buy that and only that 🙂 I  knew I needed to make a different dressing to suit his tastebuds. That is when it hit me, put the avocado along with olive oil, vingear, sugar, etc into a blender and BLEND! You have yourself Avocado Dressing!

The Avocado dressing was amazing, simple and so easy to make. Seriously it is one of those things that your family and guests will think took you hours yet it only took 5 minutes. Liven it up with fresh garlic and a pinch of cayenne and don’t forget to make plenty to store in the refrigerator- its that good!


Watercress Salad with Candied Pecans and Spicy Avocado Dressing

Ingredients: (adapted from Paula Deen)

1 large avocado or 2 medium sized, halved and pitted

3 TBSP of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of sour cream, at room temperature

1/2 cup mayo

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 TBSP fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper


Scoop avocado into your food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until all is combined and smooth.



  1. Joanne

    I am SO jealous of your garden and I can’t wait to see what you make with all of those veggies!

    This salad looks delicious…I think you definitely captured how tasty it is!

  2. Suzy

    Yum, just yum. And I’m sure MUCH healthier than my chicken! ha!

  3. To the Kitchen

    Love the salad. Come to think of it this is the first time I have seen you make a salad. great job on the pics

  4. Erica

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. We planted a garden too! But its just getting going. Your veggies look amazing. And that dressing? I need!

  5. mandy

    I love watercrest and I love avocado so this is perfect for me. Got to have the spice right! LOL!

  6. Stacey

    Oh how i love my salads. That dressing sounds fantastic! A must try for sure. i think the pic looks perfect

  7. TexasMom

    you had me at avocado! your garden looks amazing. I can’t wait for my tomatoes to be ready

  8. anne

    oh yummy green deliciousness!! anne

  9. erica@fashionmeetsfood

    Yum!!! This looks wonderful! I need to learn how to make candied pecans since you definitely cannot buy any around here. I so wish I could have a garden. I tried last year but there are these nasty bugs here that poison everything blah.


  10. Christina

    I love avocados and this dressing sounds amazing! Beautiful pictures, too!

  11. Mary at Deep South Dish

    Aren’t candied pecans so good in a salad?! And smart gal getting the hubby to help with cracking them. I bought a big bag of cracked pecans months back and even with the already cracked, it took me forever to shell the darned things!

    I can’t believe you have plants that bushy and your plants have fruited already – wow! My herbs are up and doing well, and things are growing but it’ll be awhile to harvest even here in the coastal deep south, especially since I started everything from seed this year. Got tired of spending all that money on big plants, only to have the summer heat completely hamper production down here, ugh.

    Thanks for stopping by today – hope you have a great rest of the week!!

  12. sara@domesticallychallenged

    You pretty much never fail to amaze me.

  13. Jennifer @ A Busy Nest

    The spicy avocado dressing has me very interested!

  14. Bonnie

    Beautiful! I am so ready for sunshine, warm temperatures and salads.


  15. Lindsay Rudolph

    You are my idol! I wish I had a garden. I just figured out what to do with food. I can’t think about growing it yet! Well, one of these days…The dressing sounds wonderful! Love, love, love avocados. So good and soooo good for you!Great lookin’ salad, woman!

  16. Torrie @ a place to share...

    You are sooooooo cute! (why don’t we live next door to each other Jessica??)

    Love, love, love your garden first of all (I can’t wait to take pictures of our sprouts and do a garden post too!). Seriously, anytime you share garden pics, your readers are sure to be inspired.

    I know what you mean about photographing a salad… but you did a GREAT job!! It looks delicious, and guess what? I’m making that dressing TONIGHT. We only have 1 avocado, but I’ll buy more… just so that I can make it!

  17. Candace

    Great job on the photographs, Jessica! I think this salad looks delicious. It must be the day for salads as I just posted the one that I made for lunch. I wish I had sprinkled some sugar on the walnuts though like you did your pecans instead of just toasting them. Next time! I have never eaten watercress before. This salad you’ve posted here is going to change that. Love the sound of the avocado dressing. yum!

  18. Shea

    Wow, can you pass your green thumb my way? Awesome garden! Anyway, that avocado dressing looks amazing! I’m the only avocado-lover in my household, so do you think it would keep well in the fridge?

  19. daphne

    Spicy avocado dressing! That I like! I wonder if i can replace the sour cream with yogurt..

  20. Amanda

    It looks so fresh and delicious. I can’t wait to try that dressing

  21. Laurelie

    I love salads and this one looks so good. I rarely use watercress but now you have me craving it. That dressing sounds amazing- perfect on salads or maybe even something like fish as a marinade? Just thinking

  22. Alwaysinthekitchen

    Spicy Avocado Dressing- be still my heart! sounds amazing and my son is particularly in love with avocados for some reason right now- maybe this will make him eat a salad too!

  23. Peachy Keen

    You had me at the avocado dressing! I firmly believe that there are very few dishes that can’t be improved by avocado and this salad sounds like the perfect summer lunch.

  24. Brittany

    Opps- I left the comment on the wrong post. I love the seafood paella too but this is what I came for! This dressing

  25. Lindsay

    perfect for the summer and a delicious way to add in those fresh avocados I got at the farmer’s market last week! They should be ripened in a few days

  26. lena

    hi, first time here. I just crossed over from daphne’s blog seeing that spicy avacado dressing ‘ on her blogroll. This really sounds good! i have also never eaten raw watercress before i would like to try that one day.

  27. Mary

    I just found your blog and LOVE it! We love avocado’s. What a great dressing, thanks for sharing the recipe. I am your newest follower!

  28. Dani

    Your salad looks sooo yummy! I am really jealous that your dad can “harvest” his own pecans!

  29. Maria @ Scandifoodie

    Such tasty flavours and I love all of them!

  30. Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons

    oooh i’ve been looking for a good avo dressing – I haven’t found the right one yet! I’ve coped by using guac… haha! thanks for he recipe gorgeous!

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