Watercress Pesto

Pesto Change-o

This recipe has such an air of sophistication, I’d think to rename it “Watercresto”. Except then it’d sound smarmy.  Talk about versatile, this can be used as a sauce for hot pasta, as a spread for bruschetta, as a marinade or in a cold pasta salad.  Treat it like a condiment and make a little magic. *singing* You can do MAGIC!  You can have ANYTHING that you desire.  And, yes, I’m a dork and am singing America while I post my recipes.

This goes out to all the basil lovers (and growers) longing for a taste of summertime.  Watercress is hardy and available during the colder months, and still manages to be flavorful even though a lot of the produce around it is lacking at best (I’m talking to you, hothouse tomato).  The mixture is a little milder than traditional basil pesto, but still has all the peppery bite.

This recipe makes enough pesto to dress about 2 lbs of pasta, although you should add it to taste.  More if you like a spicy sauce, and less for a more subtle taste.  For a creamy pesto, stir in a few tablespoons of heavy cream and toss with the pasta.  You can also add a few tablespoons of marinara to the pesto for another tasty variation.  Mix it up – this is your show and you ARE the boss, applesauce.

Watercress Pesto

1 medium-sized bunch of watercress (about 4 loose cups)
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. of olive oil
1/2 c. of grated locatelli (or parmagiano reggiano)
1/4 c. of toasted pine nuts (optional)
2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp. of salt

Throw cloves of garlic into the CuisineArt and pulse until finely chopped.  Add toasted pine nuts and pulse again.  Next, add the watercress (stems and all) and chop until the mixture starts to form a paste.  Coax the entire mixture into a smooth paste by slowly streaming in olive oil – stop once everything is blended and evenly chopped.  Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper and pulse to mix.  Taste for salt and serve.


  • Substitute the cress with cilantro and the locatelli for cotija cheese for a savory, southwest pesto.
  • Substitute a mix of parsley and arugula for the cress and toasted walnuts for the pinenuts for an herby pesto.

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