When it comes to pasta, sometimes I’m in the mood for red sauce and other times I’m in the mood for green sauce, i.e. pesto. The other night I was in a green sauce mood, and as I’m known to do, tried to think of a twist on the classic ingredients: olive oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese. I decided on what I believe is an under-appreciated green: watercress.
Watercress is very pepper-y, even more so than arugula. To keep it from being too strong and overpowering, I included some basil. I also substituted almonds for pine nuts, to keep with the “twist on a classic” theme and because they’re less expensive and easier to find. The best way to make pesto is with a food processor, especially a mini one (my favorite kitchen tool!), but a blender will do if it’s all you have.
I put this pesto over zucchini noodles, aka “zoodles”, to spare some calories. You’ll need a spiralizer to make them, a tool which has become mighty popular lately. There are huge fancy ones out there, but the small Veggetti works just fine for me.
I’m not going to say zoodles taste just like pasta and you won’t know the difference, because that would be a lie, but they are delicious. I prefer blanching them for a couple of minutes in boiling water, but they can also be eaten raw.
Pesto is also great on sandwiches, pizza or as a dip. This recipe makes one serving of zoodles and will leave you with plenty of leftover pesto, which freezes beautifully. And if you omit the parmesan cheese, it’s 100% vegan!
- 1 cup watercress leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large zucchini
- Get a pot of salted water boiling for the zoodles. Spiralize the zucchini and set aside.
- To make the pesto, place the watercress, basil, garlic cloves, almonds, 1/4 cup parmesan and olive oil in your food processor.
- Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. And voilà!
- Drop the zoodles into the boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain, top with desired amount of pesto and sprinkle with additional parmesan.
- Makes extra pesto.