Watercress is similiar to rocket in that it has a mild pepper taste. I love it as a salad leave for that reason, it also looks beautiful.
This recipe came about due to me over-purchasing a bag of watercress. Pesto is one of those amazing sauces that you can make to rescue a variety of herbs, or even salad leaves like I’m using here. Once made it will keep in the fridge in an air-tight container for a week or two. Much longer than my almost wilted salad bag would have lasted.
I find this is a great thing to make if you feel you have to throw away some herbs or salad leaves. Chances are you already have the other ingredients to make this.
I also used walnuts here rather than the typical pine nuts. Toasting them before adding to the food processor really adds to the nuttiness of the pesto.
I used this pesto to make a delicious, light dinner. A pasta salad made with some more toasted walnuts, rocket (I stupidly finished my watercress before making this but you could reserve some leaves), and some wilted spinach. The mixture between the cooked and fresh leaves added some nice texture and the walnuts brought out the nuttiness of the pesto.
Generally I would use spaghetti with pesto but I love this conchiglie pasta for gathering little pockets of pesto and chopped walnuts.
When I fancy something like pasta for dinner (who doesn’t, it’s so quick) I often pad it out with salad leaves like I’ve done here to turn it into a salad. It’s so much lighter but still gives me that quick pasta fix.
- 70 gram bag of watercress (or try rocket)
- 50 grams roughly chopped walnuts
- 50 grams roughly chopped parmesan
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Pinch of sea salt
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 75 grams dried pasta per portion
- Large handful of spinach
- Small handful of walnuts
- Extra watercress leaves
- Parmesan to serve
- Toast the chopped walnuts for a couple of minutes in a frying pan on a low heat. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
- Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well combined. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the oil in until the desied consistency.
- Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
- Once there are 2 minutes to go, add the spinach to the pasta water and leave until the pasta is done.
- Drain the pasta and spinach, reserving some of the cooking water. Add pack to the pan and on a low heat stir in the desired amount of pesto, the walnuts and the fresh watercress leaves. Stir and add a tablespoon of the cooking liquid to loose the sauce as required.
- Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan.
- Store any additional pesto in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.