Give Pesto An Herby, Spicy Kick With Watercress

Bright and fresh pesto is an Italian staple. Fragrant and delicious, this thick, smooth, and savory green paste whipped up in a food processor, is generally made using fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. What is inspiring about this sauce is how versatile it can be. A classic pesto can be used as a pasta sauce, a condiment for a sandwich, a dip for veggies, a sauce to use on meats you throw on the grill, or even to add flavor to soups.

But the true beauty of pesto is how it can be customized to your taste using an array of different ingredients. To begin your adventure, add in a little mint or thyme to change up the traditional flavors of your favorite pesto recipe. If you are a fan of flavors that make you think of your favorite Mexican food, substitute cilantro for basil, cotija cheese for parmesan, slivered almonds for pine nuts, and bring it all together with a squeeze of lime juice to create a cilantro pesto. You can even create a sweet pesto by simply adding a little honey and vanilla to the base ingredients of this sauce. But if you want to spice it up, watercress should be your go-to. 

It's good for you

Watercress is not just for your favorite sandwich or mixed in with the greens of your salad. Its peppery notes make it perfect for pesto. While the taste of this green can be overly pungent for the uninitiated, the spicy kick it adds can also be a fiesta of fireworks for heat lovers. If the flavor of watercress sounds intimidating, you can first try adding a little to your classic basil pesto. If you like the taste and your palate is up for the adventure, try making it without the basil. But the added spice of watercress isn't the only benefit to using this leafy green to create a pesto.

Watercress, which grows near cool streams during the spring months, is nutrient rich. Often considered a superfood, a single cup of this luscious green contains 21% of the recommended daily value of vitamin E as well as a laundry list of 50 vitamins and minerals. It is chockfull of iron and is believed to help keep your blood pressure low. While it is available at most grocery stores, in the event you can't find it and you still want to experience that peppery bite, you could use arugula, dandelion, or mustard greens in its place.