Watercress Pepita Pesto


Green green green—after numerous May snowfalls, finally Spring has erupted into GREEN around here!  And with it I want to eat more green.  I found watercress in a store recently and it seemed like the perfect addition to a Spring dinner.


Watercress grows in our local streams and in the past I have picked it from ones that I think (and hope) are clean (no ‘hot’ manure, no field runoff).  Commercial greens are usually grown hydroponically in alkaline water, so it thrives naturally in this limestone-rich terrain.




Nasturtium officinale

This peppery green is related to mustard, nasturtium and radishes, and you can tell from the zippy zing of the leaves that it fits into that family tree.

Here is the first sentence on the wikipedia page: “Watercress, is a fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.”  It always amazes me that they know what we ate eons ago.




Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are one of my favorite snacks, and they go well in numerous dishes such as pilafs, green salads and grain salads.  They also are fantastic ground up in sauces like móle, and in dips or pestos.  Love!

Lately I’ve been buying them raw and either eating them raw or toasting as needed.  Like all nuts and seeds, they don’t require much time to toast and will burn easily creating a bitter flavor that you won’t find appealing as an addition to your meal.

People have been eating pumpkin seeds for a very long time too…apparently this is a recipe of old foods.  Archeologists found squash seeds in a cave in Oaxaco, Mexico that was dated as 10,000 years old, and since the seeds are high in protein and minerals one could assume they ate them as well as planted them.  Nutritional efficiency!




Watercress Pepita Pesto

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

In the oven or a saute pan, lightly toast until they begin to pop—approximately 5 minutes:

1/2 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds

They burn easily, be careful!


(This can also be made without a processor by chopping everything)

Chop in a food processor:

2 large cloves Garlic

1/2 cup toasted Pumpkin Seeds


2 cups Watercress

1/2 cup Parsley

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Pinch of Black Pepper

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of Lemon Zest

Pulse chop (turn off and on) a few times to mix everything up, then puree. 

Slowly drizzle in while it is blending:

1/2 cup Olive Oil

Remove from food processor and mix in:

3/4 cup Parmesan or Asiago Cheese, grated

Taste and Adjust!



Serving suggestions:

  • On pasta
  • On toasted bread, sandwiches or crostinis
  • On Pizza
  • As a dip for vegetables
  • On your finger


Other ingredient possibilities:

Balsamic Vinegar

Pecans, Walnuts and Sunflower Seeds



This Elisabeth Maurland creation is my favorite plate for these photos!   And look at that gluten free Tinkyada fettucini, just like the real thing…


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