This watercress pesto was born of necessity. I was trying to make dandelion pesto for this delicious acorn squash soup, but couldn't find any dandelion greens . On a whim, I selected another nutrient-packed leafy green that I'd been meaning to play with: watercress.
If you're not familiar with watercress, you should definitely work it into your meal plans. It has a fresh, peppery taste that I can't get enough of.
Packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, copper, calcium, manganese, phorphorus, magnesium, and potassium, it's a nutritional powerhouse. From a Chinese medicine perspective, watercress is cooling and can help to lubricate the lungs to stop cough, so if you have that nasty bug that's been circulating around Portland, you may consider bringing this into your diet.
I make this pesto pretty regularly, sometimes making a double batch to freeze and keep on hand...or even to eat it out of the jar (yes, it's that good!). It's a great nut-free pesto alternative to incorporate into your autoimmune paleo protocol. For this batch I tossed it with some roasted root vegetables, but you can also use it the same way you would use any pesto. You won't be disappointed!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
For the watercress pesto:
1 bunch watercress, roots removed and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 C olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
For the root vegetables
2 T melted fat (I used ghee, but you can also use coconut oil or avocado oil)
1 C cubed butternut squash
1 lb brussel sprouts, stems removed and halved
4 medium-sized beets, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425.
Combine all the veggies in a roasting pan, and toss with melted fat and sea salt. I also added a bit of rosemary to mine.
Roast the veggies for 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, make the pesto. Just combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until the desired consistency is reached. If you're lazy like me and don't want to clean the food processor, you can also use an immersion blender. Adjust the salt and lemon juice levels to taste.
Remove the veggies from the oven and allow to cool, then toss with the watercress pesto -- and enjoy! This is a great side, or you can dish yourself out a little more and eat it on its own!
Andrea Lane is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and certified Pilates instructor in Portland, Oregon. Her practice particularly focuses on treating allergies, autoimmune disease, and women's health. She is passionate about maintaining good health through a whole-food diet, mindful movement, and meditation. When she is not practicing, she loves to cook, listen to podcasts, read her way out from under the small mountain of books she's accumulated, and cater to her cat's every whim.