Keiko's Lotus & Watercress Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms

This salad knocked my socks off. We went to visit Jun’s parents, and his mom Keiko served this delightful salad: peppery watercress, sweet apples, hearty lotus root and savory shiitake mushrooms with a bite of red onion. Oh my!


Lotus root

Lotus root is a new vegetable for me, often found in specialty food stores or Asian markets. It tastes best when just boiled for a minute and then allowed to marinate in a light dressing. And it just looks so cool! 

Lotus root tastes a little bit like a potato with a slightly sweet taste, but it’s much more nutrient dense making it a great substitute in other recipes.

Here’s why you should try lotus root!

  • Insoluble fiber: makes bowel movements easier and keeps your blood sugar stable (and feeds your good little probiotics just what they want to eat!).

  • Potassium: helpful if you’ve got cardiovascular disease (like high cholesterol, diabetes, or history of heart attack or stroke) or have a tendency to get muscle cramping.

  • Vitamin C: great for collagen production (think more elasticity in your skin!) and a powerful anti-oxidant. Most people don’t need to take Vitamin C supplements . . . they just need to eat vegetables and fruit.



Watercress is a green I have learned to love over the years. The first time I tasted it, I was not prepared for the peppery, bitter explosion in my mouth . . . and I didn’t really like it. My palate has shifted a lot as I’ve eaten more bitter vegetables, and now I love it. If you have a hard time with bitter greens, consider using equal parts watercress and chopped baby spinach.

Here’s why you should eat watercress!

  • Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable: cruciferous vegetables are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and sulfurophanes. (You can read about why cruciferous vegetables are nutritional super foods in this post.) You should aim to get at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables in per day. For me, often half or more of my vegetable intake is from cruciferous vegetables. 

  • Liver detoxification: bitter greens are especially good at helping the liver do its job of to detoxifying the body of unnecessary harm. Proper liver detoxification of the blood is vital. As I learned in medical school, you can live without your lover, but you can’t love without your liver! Ha!

  • Vitamin K: helps to support our blood clotting system, so the next time you cut your finger in the kitchen and it stops bleeding, thank your watercress.

  • Magnesium: gentle calming effect on our nervous systems and help with bathroom regularity.

  • B vitamins: necessary for energy production in the body.

Have I sold you on lotus root and watercress?!


¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 lotus root, peeled and thinly sliced (a mandolin is helpful but not necessary)

6 c watercress (for a more mild salad, try 3 c watercress + 3 c baby spinach), chopped

4 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced (don’t discard the stems!)

1 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium apple, diced

1 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp vinaigrette of choice (my favorite is Garlic Expressions – made in Ohio!)

Salt, pepper to taste



1.    Thinly slice red onion and soak in tap water to mellow out the flavor.

2.    Boil water in a medium sauce pan. Prepare lotus root by peeling and thinly slicing. When water is boiling, cook the lotus root for 1 minute. (This is called blanching.) Remove from water and toss with 1 Tbsp vinaigrette while warm so that the lotus absorbs the flavor for at least 20 minutes.

3.    Slice shiitake mushrooms and sauté on medium heat in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender. Salt & pepper to taste.

4.    Combine greens, diced apples, blanched & marinated lotus root, cooked shiitake mushrooms and drained red onions.  Toss with remainder of vinaigrette.