Watercress and pistachio pesto

spaghetti with watercress and pistachio pesto

I was recently given a new hand mixer and so, naturally, the first thing I had to try it out on was homemade pesto.

Normally I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to pesto. I could eat basil and pine nut pesto every day and never tire of it. It brings back very fond memories of inter-railing around Europe with my best friend after our A-levels. The only food we could really cook in our basic hostel kitchens was pasta and pesto from a jar. Washed down with a cheap bottle of plonk, we couldn’t have been happier. And then we ate fresh pesto in Italy and we were happier still.

But as my husband isn’t much of  a pesto fan, I have started to experiment with different variations. Wild garlic pesto was a big hit last year and I look forward to picking some again from the local hedgerows when spring finally decides to turn up here in Somerset.

One of my favourite food bloggers is Louisa at Chez Foti who happens to be a bit of a pesto aficionado. I love the look of her stilton, walnut and parsley pesto and will be trying it soon. In this same blog post Louisa helpfully listed a whole menu of ideas for anyone wanting to dabble in a little pesto experimentation.

One of her suggestions was watercress, which is a particular favourite ingredient of mine. And so I came up with this recipe for watercress and pistachio pesto. I thought it might be a little peppery for the children but that wasn’t an issue at all. They wolfed it down and came back for more. A definite success. Bear in mind that if you do add the Ricotta at the end, you’ll need to use the pesto within a couple of days. If you leave it out, the pesto will keep in a glass jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

making watercress pistachio pesto

Watercress and pistachio pesto

Serves 6 to 8

80g watercress
1tsp rock salt
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
60g Parmesan, grated
60g shelled pistachio nuts
150 ml olive oil – the best quality you can afford
2 tbsp Ricotta cheese

In a blender, process the watercress, salt, and garlic until well chopped. Add the Parmesan, pistachio nuts and olive oil and blend until fairly smooth and creamy.

Scrape into a bowl and fold in the Ricotta cheese. Serve with pasta of your choice. Personally I always go for spaghetti with pesto.

spaghetti with watercress and pistachio pesto

If you have featured a pesto recipe on your blog, please feel free to include a URL in the comments below and I’ll be more than happy to  link up to it!

Lemon and ricotta pancakes

If you are looking for a twist on the traditional pancake this Shrove Tuesday, why not give these delicious lemon and ricotta pancakes a go?

Adapted from a recipe in The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano, they are temptingly light and fluffy with a hint of citrus zing.

Lemon and ricotta pancakes

Serves 4

4 eggs
250g ricotta cheese
35g plain flour
50g caster sugar
2 unwaxed lemons
50g butter for frying
Honey to serve

Separate the eggs into two large bowls. Whisk up the egg whites until they form soft peaks and put to one side.

Give the egg yolks a quick beat. Zest the two lemons and add to the yolks. Sieve the flour onto the yolks, then add in the ricotta and sugar. Gently mix together.

Fold in the egg whites gently so you don't lose all that air

Spoon a quarter of the egg whites into the rest of the pancake mixture and carefully fold in. Once combined, gently fold in the remainder of the whites.

Melt enough butter to cover the bottom of your frying pan. Spoon in the pancake mix. You need around a tablespoon of mixture for each small pancake, and you should be able to cook around four at a time, depending of course on the size of your pan.

Fry your dainty pancakes until golden

Fry the pancakes for a couple of minutes until tiny holes appear on the surface. Flip them over and cook for another two to three minutes until a gorgeous golden colour.

Keep the pancakes warm until you’ve cooked them all. Then serve immediately with a drizzle of honey and a good squeeze of lemon.