Recipe: Asparagus with watercress mayonnaise, a fresh and simple seasonal treat

Our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson works her magic with watercress.

Watercress is delightfully fragrant and offers a simple way to add colour and peppery notes to spring dishes.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as pepping up an accompaniment to a simple seasonal classic, as in this recipe for asparagus with watercress mayonnaise.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • two egg yolks
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1stsp mustard powder
  • olive oil
  • handful of watercress
  • asparagus spears
  • juice of one lemon


In the small bowl of a blender, mix two egg yolks and one teaspoon each of white-wine vinegar and mustard powder.

With the motor running, add a couple of drops of light olive oil followed by a steady stream of 200ml. Once the mayonnaise has thickened, add a handful of watercress and a generous pinch of salt and process until smooth.

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Serve with grilled asparagus tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Recipe: Salmon, watercress and horseradish tart

For something a little more substantial making the most of your crop of watercress, the following recipe for is ideal. Watercress is a cousin of horseradish, which is why they pair so well in this dish.

Salmon, watercress and horseradish tart.

Salmon, watercress and horseradish tart. Credit: Melanie Johnson/Country Life

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 140g cold butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tbspn iced water, if needed

For the filling

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 350ml double cream
  • 2tbspn creamed horseradish
  • 2 handfuls watercress, plus more to garnish


Put the flour, salt and butter into a processor and pulse until combined. Add the egg yolks and pulse until the dough just comes together.

If it looks a little dry, add the iced water and pulse again. The aim is to work it as little as possible so that you have lovely short pastry. Shape the dough into a flat disc before wrapping it in clingfilm and chilling it for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the salmon by wrapping the fillets in foil and oven-baking for 20 minutes. Cool before handling and then flake the flesh into a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin and line your tart tin. Cover the pastry with baking paper and fill with ceramic beans, then blind bake at 200˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 for 15–20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes, then take it out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 150˚C.

While the pastry is cooling, fry the onion in butter until soft, then set aside. Combine the eggs, cream and horseradish in a bowl and whisk together. Gently fold in the cooked onions, flaked salmon and watercress.

Spoon the mixture into the cooled tart case so that it’s full and bake for about 40–50 minutes.

Serve the tart warm, garnished with more watercress.