Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Zucchini Pasta

Pesto is one of those dishes that heralds the start of warmer days and the short march into summer. It's a traditional pairing with tomatoes - the quintessential summer produce - and I used to make gallons of it when I grew basil in my old garden.

I've updated the traditional recipe by replacing the main ingredients with watercress and pumpkin seeds. Watercress is one of the most nutrient-dense greens available. It can, however end up tasting a little grassy. If you can, get the young leaves (pictured below) as opposed to the thick overgrown stems. Either way, I counter the grassiness by adding in some of the traditional basil.

I don't put garlic in my pesto (I know, the horror). Raw garlic gives my husband headaches and frankly, it does something horrible to my breath - way beyond the normal garlic breath one would expect. This is a new development for me and one that's very disappointing as I love garlic. Feel free to add it in if you must have it, but I don't think it's necessary here. 

I serve this pesto with zucchini noodles. If you don't have a spiralizer, you can also try this julienne peeler. It won't give you the same noodles, but it will give you zucchini threads and for a lot less money. 

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

1 bunch watercress, stems removed

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (shelled; also known as kernels)

1/4 cup walnut oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Squeeze of lemon juice

Place all the ingredients aside from the walnut oil in a cuisinart and pulse until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil and process until combined.

Serve with zucchini pasta, as a dip for crudités or any other way you would use regular pesto.