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Watercress Pesto – Vibrant Green Sauce or Spread

Watercress Pesto.

Wild garlic may have gone and basil isn’t yet out, but there is another herby green to fill the pesto gap. Cue watercress. Watercress pesto is super scrumptious and you can use it just as you would any other pesto.

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Watercress is a delicious green salad or cooking leaf and it’s packed full of nutrients. It mostly grows in the clear chalk streams of Dorset and Hampshire. So now I’m living in the New Forest, I can claim it’s a local product.

To enjoy watercress at its best, eat it fresh and in season. Here in the UK this is usually from April to October. It doesn’t last very long, so it’s best to eat it within a couple of days of purchase. Wrap the stems in damp kitchen paper, then place into a sealed container or plastic bag. Keep it in the bottom drawer of the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

The leaves are soft and succulent but have a powerful peppery flavour. But don’t discard the stems, they’re crunchy and easy to eat. I normally enjoy watercress as a salad or stuffed into sandwiches. It’s absolutely perfect in my cheese baps.

Bunch of watercress in a mug.

Last week, I was sent a box of watercress to try out. The bunches were wrapped in new home-composting packaging, which pleased me greatly. At the moment most watercress is sold in plastic bags. Anyway, as I had an abundance of watercress, I felt justified in developing a few recipes. This watercress pesto is my favourite.

Health Benefits of Watercress

The industry claims a number of health benefits for watercress. Certainly, I’ve always known it as a superfood. Here they are:

  1. High in vitamin C, which is great for boosting the immune system and reducing fatigue. I have to say that after I’d eaten watercress several days on the trot, I seemed to have bags more energy than normal. But I don’t know if that was down to the watercress or just incidental.
  2. Reduces DNA damage which lowers the chance of developing some cancers.
  3. High in vitamin A, which is beneficial for eyes and skin health.
  4. Increases elasticity in the blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure.
  5. Loaded with antioxidants which supports natural detoxification of the body.

Watercress Pesto

Some pestos, such as the classic Genovese pesto are best when they retain a little texture. But watercress makes a superbly fine pesto sauce. It has a light, fresh and spring like flavour. The peppery notes are present, but much less powerful than when eating the leaves straight. And the vibrant green colour is just delightful.

Watercress pesto in a jar and spread on a cracker.

Pesto is incredibly versatile and you can use this watercress pesto just as you would any other. Use it as a pasta sauce, in a risotto or spread it on crackers.

As I had so much watercress, I made double quantities of the recipe I’ve given below. I used some of it in one of the new recipes I’ve developed, but mostly we’re eating it on crackers. It’s just so delicious.

Watercress pesto in a jar and spread on a cracker.

The recipe is really easy. It’s just a case of blending everything together. Once made, scoop into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to three days.

Three jars of watercress pesto.

If you want to keep the pesto for longer, seal the top with a layer of olive oil before closing the lid. If properly sealed, this should keep for a week or even two in the fridge. Alternatively you can freeze it. Head over to my wild garlic pesto post to see how.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Watercress Pesto?

Well of course watercress is a must when it comes to watercress pesto. It’s always good to use a well flavoured extra virgin olive oil too. But when it comes to the other ingredients, you can be more flexible. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use a bit of wild garlic, garlic scapes or pickled garlic. I used our own homemade pickled garlic as we rarely have the fresh stuff at this time of year.

Walnuts make a good pairing with watercress. Something to do with their robust flavours I suspect. And as I’ve gone for English nuts and greens, I’ve also used cheddar as the cheese. Cheddar is also one of the cheapest hard cheeses and one of the tastes too. This is especially true if you use mature cheddar, which I’ve done.

But feel free to use whatever hard cheese or cheeses you have in the fridge and whatever nuts you have in the cupboard. After all, it’s not always easy to get just the right ingredients.

Food Processor or Blender?

If you have a blender or food processor, pesto is such an easy thing to make. And it’s oh so satisfying. I used my much loved Froothie Evolve* for this watercress pesto. Not only does it give a super smooth consistency, but the jug is made of glass. This makes it much easier to clean and there’s no danger of micro plastic bits being incorporated into the pesto. Do read my Froothie Evolve review for more information on this fabulous piece of equipment.

Blending the green stuff.

It does rather depend on how fine you like your pesto as to whether you use a blender or food processor. A power blender such as the Froothie Evolve will create a super fine sauce. For watercress pesto, this is exactly what you want. But for other pestos I usually use a food processor where I can get a more textured paste.

Although traditional pesto is often ground by hand in a pestle and mortar, I wouldn’t recommend it for this recipe. As it’s name suggests, watercress is quite watery which makes it unsuitable for this method of preparation. 

Other Pesto Recipes You Might Like

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Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make my recipe for watercress pesto, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Watercress Pesto. PIN IT.

Watercress Pesto

Watercress Pesto – The Recipe

Watercress Pesto.
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5 from 7 votes

Watercress Pesto

Watercress pesto is super scrumptious and you can use it just as you would any other pesto. It has a light, fresh and spring like flavour. And the bright green colour reflects this.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Dips, Spreads & Sauces
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cheese, pesto, sauce, vegetarian, walnuts, watercress
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 274kcal



  • 150 g watercress
  • 60 g walnuts
  • 60 g cheddar cheese - grated
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch salt
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil


  • Place all of the ingredients, bar the olive oil into a blender or food processor. And blitz until everything is more or less blended.
  • Add the olive oil and whizz again until you have a fine paste.
  • Scoop into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to three days.


Use it as a pasta sauce, in a risotto or spread it on crackers.
If you want to keep the pesto for longer, seal the top with a layer of olive oil before closing the lid. If properly sealed, this should keep for a week or even two in the fridge. Alternatively you can freeze it. Head over to my wild garlic pesto post to see how.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 109mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1347IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 168mg | Iron: 1mg


I’m sharing this recipe for watercress pesto with The Peachicks Bakery for #CookBlogShare.

This post contains affiliate links to Froothie Optimum products*. Links are marked with an *. If you buy through a link it won’t cost you any more, but I’ll get a small commission. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.

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  1. angiesrecipes

    5th May 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I just made a huge batch of pesto using radish greens. Gotta find some watercress to try! Love your version with walnuts and cheddar.

    • Choclette

      5th May 2020 at 4:23 pm

      Oh oh oh! I’ve really tried to like radish greens as it always seems such a waste to throw them on the compost heap. But I can’t bring myself to like them. I’ve always been a bit wary of trying them as pesto in case it doesn’t work. But now you’ve inspired me, maybe I should give it a go.

  2. Cathy @ Planet Veggie

    6th May 2020 at 12:12 pm

    What a wonderful colour! I think I’ve only had watercress in salad. I used to grow it as a kid though, as I’m sure we all did. Didn’t it involve tissue paper?

    • Choclette

      6th May 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Not sure I ever grew it as a kid, but we used to have some growing in the stream when we had a plot on a field. Used to make a lot of soup with it as we couldn’t eat it raw – had sheep in the field previously.

  3. Amanda

    7th May 2020 at 12:03 am

    What a fabulous way to use watercress! I love that vibrant color — so perfect for spring — and the creamy texture is divine.

    • Choclette

      7th May 2020 at 8:51 am

      It tastes wonderful Amanda, but I’m totally in love with the colour.

  4. Natalie

    7th May 2020 at 6:00 pm

    I saw watercress on our market but didn’t know how to use it exactly. But you just gave me an idea. I love this recipe. I will go and buy watercress and make this pesto. Can’t wait.

    • Choclette

      7th May 2020 at 6:29 pm

      It’s really lovely. I made double quantities, so luckily I’ve still got a jar left in the fridge.

  5. Uma Srinivas

    8th May 2020 at 1:39 am

    Watercress pesto sounds yummy! Never tried watercress before, after reading the benefits and flavor of that wanted to try it soon.

    • Choclette

      8th May 2020 at 9:59 am

      Watercress is probably my favourite salad green. It’s so fresh and crunchy with a lovely peppery taste.

  6. Midge @ Peachicks' Bakery

    8th May 2020 at 9:23 am

    What a beautiful way to use such a stunning veggie! It most definitely is a local product and one our best I reckon! I grew up with my grandparents living around the watercress farms so we’d always go past them on our walks. I’ve always loved watercress and The Peas do too, but its just not the same out of a bag! Thanks for sharing #CookBlogShare

    • Choclette

      8th May 2020 at 10:01 am

      It’s definitely not the same out of a bag. We used to have some growing in the field where we had our plot back in Cornwall. But as the field once had sheep in it, we couldn’t eat the watercress raw. So how wonderful to grow up surrounded by the real thing.

  7. Michelle Rolfe

    11th May 2020 at 12:02 pm

    Beautiful colour and this screams spring to me! Great use of watercress instead of a salad, great for a dip or pasta. Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. Michelle

    • Choclette

      11th May 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Absolutely, that green is just such a fresh spring green colour. And it tastes really fresh and delicious too.

  8. Jacqueline Meldrum

    23rd May 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Oh now that’s one pesto twist I haven’t tried. Nice idea Choclette!

    • Choclette

      23rd May 2020 at 7:26 pm

      It makes a particularly smooth and creamy pesto. Delicious too.


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