Watercress is a perennial herb and part of the Nasturtium family and is known for its peppery flavours. As it ages though these flavours can turn bitter so it's best to use younger specimens. It has high levels of Vitamin C along with Vitamin A, iron, calcium, and folic acid and is thought to help aid digestion.
I source this particular specimen from a hydroponic grower which in the case of watercress makes perfect sense since it is a semi-aquatic plant. These bunches are sold with their root systems intact which help to extent the life of this higher perishable plant.
The recipe I've made helps extend the life of watercress even further by turning it into pesto!
1 bunch watercress (about 100 grams picked watercress)
2 tablespoons pinenuts (I used Spanish pinenuts, try to avoid Chinese pinenuts)
sea salt and ground white pepper
sunflower oil (or your favourite neutral flavoured oil)
The beauty of pesto is that it should be made by eye to suit your particular place so all recipes should just be viewed as guides.
I used both the leaves and stems in this pesto as the plant isn't very old - if the stems are thick, give it a taste before using to make sure it's not too strong. Rinse the picked watercress and dry.
Place the watercress into a processor with a drizzle of oil and pulse until roughly chopped. Add in the pinenuts and pulse again until they have are roughly chopped.
Add a heaped tablespoon of grated pecorino and another good drizzle of oil and pulse again until a paste forms - you don't want a smooth mixture so be careful as your process.
Spoon the pesto into a bowl and taste, adjust with salt and pepper and add more grated pecorino and olive oil to form a thick slurry.
It's now ready to use but you can store it in the fridge in a sealed container - make sure you store it under a layer of oil to stop it from discoloration due to oxidation.