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How to make pasta with watercress pesto and sautéed cherry tomatoes

BY Paola Westbeek

7th Mar 2023 Recipes

How to make pasta with watercress pesto and sautéed cherry tomatoes
A delicious pasta with watercress pesto and cherry tomatoes recipe to try for a quick and delicious meal
One of the best ways to lower your calorie consumption and boost overall health is to cut out animal fats and processed oils. Instead, opt for the natural, healthier fats found in whole foods like nuts, seeds and avocados, and use these foods in moderation.  
Full of bright, zesty flavours, the star of this pasta recipe is the homemade watercress pesto, which calls for avocado and walnuts rather than the olive oil and cheese found in most traditional recipes. The cherry tomatoes crowning this delicious whole food, plant-based dish are sautéed in water. In fact, when sautéing vegetables, oils can easily be replaced by water, broth or even wine. 
Preparation: 10 minutes 
Cooking time: 10 minutes 


Serves four
  • 400g whole-wheat penne 
For the sautéed tomatoes: 
  • 3 tbsp water 
  • 500g sweet cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 4 tbsp dried Italian spices 
  • Freshly cracked pepper 
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the watercress & walnut pesto: 
  • 60g walnuts 
  • 2 fat garlic cloves 
  • ½ ripe avocado 
  • 1 tsp white miso paste 
  • 75g fresh watercress 
  • 10 basil leaves, plus extra for garnish 
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tbsp vegetable broth 
  • Freshly cracked pepper 
Pasta with watercress pesto recipe


  • For the tomatoes, place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the water to the pan. 
  • Once the water is bubbling, add the cherry tomatoes along with the Italian spices, pepper and vinegar. 
  • Cook the tomatoes, stirring every now and then, for about 10 minutes (or until the tomatoes begin to shrivel a little and release their juices).  
  • In the meantime, make the pesto
  • Toast the walnuts in a frying pan without oil until fragrant.  
  • Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor along with the rest of the pesto ingredients. 
  • Blitz the mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. 
  • Drain the penne once cooked, reserving 4 tbsps of the cooking water. 
  • Stir the pesto and reserved cooking water through the cooked penne. 
  • Divide the penne over 4 dishes, top with the sautéed tomatoes and garnish with basil. 
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