Watercress and Pea Pesto

This recipe is so simple and quick to make (I see a theme!). It makes an ideal dip like shown here or to use as a dressing/sauce.

I have offered the choice to use pine nuts or sunflower seeds. The latter is a lot less expensive (as well as more nutritious!). For the same reason of saving money, I have used extra mature cheese instead of the traditional parmesan. Please feel free to swap.

As watercress can have quite a bitter taste (still delicious), I have added peas which counteracts this and gives a wonderful creamy flavour. As stated in the recipe, it can be adapted to use up those opened salad bags that end up in the bottom of the fridge drawer to be found a week later looking rather sorry for itself. This of course links up with our aim to reduce food waste. #LoveFoodHateWaste

Nutritional Benefits:

Watercress is a powerhouse of nutrients providing good amounts of vitamin A, C (immunity and wound healing) and K (good bone and blood health), potassium and calcium. It also is a rich source of plant chemicals (that may reduce or minimise certain cancers including one which help to block the action of cells linked with lung cancer.

It belongs to the brassica vegetable family which all have the ability to help prevent chronic diseases, including  cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and various forms of cancers and more. The antioxidants have the ability to reduce what is called oxidative stress and the presence of free radicals in our body. These have the potential to cause inflammation, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, increase the signs of ageing and cell changes which can lead to cancer.

Peas are packed with several B vitamins (including folate), vitamin C, iron, phosphorous and  manganese as well as a great source of soluble fibre. Peas contain more protein than any other vegetable so are a good choice for vegetarians. For optimum nutrition, they are best combined with eggs, milk or cheese. Research has shown that folate levels are often low in people with depression and anxiety so peas may help with this.

Rapeseed oil is one of the healthiest oils, rich in monounsaturates and a good balance of omega 3’s, omega 6’s and vitamin E to help protect against cancers, heart disease and other illnesses. In fact, it contains higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids than olive oil. These two essential fatty acids contribute to brain development, growth and maintaining a healthy immune system. It is a good choice for cooking as unlike olive oil, it does not degrade when heated and has a milder flavour so does not detract from the recipe flavour. Another benefit is that rapeseed is easily grown in the UK so the product you buy is less likely to have travelled meaning less air miles and less climate damage. You will also be supporting British farmers.

Cheese is an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, calcium (needed for strong bones) as well as other various vitamins and minerals. There is still a lot of  conflicting advice on eating saturated fats in dairy foods but recent research has shown that they have little effect on the heart or risks of strokes and can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.. Like most foods, they should not be eaten in vast amounts but certainly as part of a healthy diet.

Sunflower seeds are rich in a range of minerals and vitamin E as well as offering protection from inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

 

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