Watercress & walnut pesto

I realise there’s a theme of green sauces lately (I fear I’m becoming a one trick pony) but this pesto is a new obsession of mine; the watercress brings a really welcome freshness to it, cutting through the richness of the nuts and oil with its bright and peppery flavour. For some reason I don’t yet understand, it loses its vibrancy after a day in the fridge, so this pesto is best eaten on the day you make it.

This is absolutely delicious as it is, but if you want to dress it up, I think crumbled goat’s cheese and extra toasted walnuts crushed over the top of it make it something really special.

Watercress and walnut pesto

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 100g walnut halves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 30g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
  • 80g light olive oil (if you don’t have light, use 40g veg oil and 40g extra virgin olive oil)
  • 120g watercress
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 400g dried pasta – I used casarecce, but I think this would work with most shapes


  • Heat the oven to 180’c, and spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet. Roast the walnuts for about 5-10 minutes until golden brown – not burnt! I can’t stress this enough, if they burn at all, cut your losses, bin them and start again – they will ruin the whole thing!
  • Blitz everything together in a food processor or using a stick blender – I prefer the latter for a small batch like this. Season really well with salt and black pepper.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water. Put the pesto into a serving bowl, and loosen it by stirring in a spoonful or two of the starchy pasta cooking water. Add the hot, drained pasta straight into it and toss it all together to coat the pasta.
  • Serve immediately.