This is a delicious vegetarian recipe which will please all the family. The sharp and tangy watercress are usually found in sandwiches or salads, but this is a far fresher and more interesting way of using this underrated leaf.

Bucatini, spiralised courgettes, samphire and watercress pesto with wines to match – recipe by Michel Roux Jr

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g Bucatini
  • 1 Courgette
  • 15g samphire
  • 1 sprig of thyme

To prepare the pesto:

  • 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100g baby watercress
  • 30g grated Parmesan
  • 30g toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • 1 ice cube
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. To prepare the pesto; place all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blitz until all the ingredients form a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper before storing in the refrigerator with aluminium foil around until you are ready to use (this will avoid any discoloration).
  2. Place the Bucatini in salted boiling water and cook till tender, with a little bite or “al-dente” as the Italians suggest.
  3. In the meantime, rinse the samphire and trimmed courgette under cold water. Halve the courgette and use the thin noodle attachment on your spiralizer to create long twirls of pasta-like vegetable noodles. Alternatively, you could use a mandolin, or a sharp knife with good chopping skills.
  4. Place a large frying pan on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Add in the sprig of thyme together with the long filaments of courgette and samphire.
  6. Sauté the vegetables for just one minute and season with a generous pinch of freshly ground pepper (no salt needed as the samphire will deliver its fair share).
  7. When the pasta is cooked, strain off, reserving some of the cooking water.
  8. Return the pasta to the frying pan and pour over the pesto, using a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary.
  9. Mix well until all the pasta and vegetables are coated in the delicious watercress pesto.
  10. Ideally, this dish should be served nice and hot with a few parmesan shaving and fresh basil and watercress leafs scattered on top.

About this recipe

Bursting with vitamins and minerals, the peppery leaves are fantastic for making sauces, soups and in this case, a lovely pesto. Another special ingredient in this dish is definitely the fresh samphire, a sea vegetable that grows abundantly on shorelines and enhances this simple pasta recipe with clean and crisp salty flavours from the sea.

Wines to match with watercress pesto and bucatini pasta

A dry German Riesling with intense minerality will do wonders for this flavoursome, vegetarian dish. The affordable Stepp Riesling, Kallstadter Saumagen 2014 is full of delicate notes of apples and peaches. This is a tantalising white wine which will easily complement this vibrant recipe.

I suggest a young, refreshing and zesty Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region to accompany this light and scrumptious dish. The Calvet Pouilly-Fumé 2014 is bursting with citrus and aromatic flavours, highlighting the purity and minerality of this white wine.

Although a little more expensive; the Château de Puligny Montrachet  En Remilly, St Aubin, 1er Cru 2011 is a favourite of mine. This 100% Burgundy Chardonnay has all the distinctive characters of a Burguandian wine. Exquisitely fresh, just like this vegetarian recipe.

The wines

Stepp, Riesling, Kallstadter Saumagen, Pfalz 2014

This white has wonderful tangy and fruity flavours that pair so beautifully with the creamy yet sharp flavours of the watercress pesto. This Riesling has an unusual finish that almost tingles the taste buds but the subtle notes of white peach gives this wine a mellow and fresh finesse. RRP: Marks and Spencer £15

Calvet, Pouilly-Fume, Loire 2014

The yellow-green colour of this Sauvignon Blanc looks beautiful against the deep greens of this vegetable dish. Floral and citrusy with a crisp minerality, it is a perfect summery wine that is wonderful to eat alongside this dish in the sunshine. RRP: Waitrose £15.99

Château de Puligny Montrachet En Remilly, St Aubin, 1er Cru 2011

This is a very special white wine and works so beautifully with the sunny flavours of the courgette and watercress in this pasta dish. Full of freshness and aromatic, herbaceous flavours, this medium bodied white wine from the Burgundy region is wonderful on the nose. Rich in notes of grapefruit, white flowers and a little honey for balance it is an absolute show stopper – you can discover new flavours within every sip. RRP: £35 from Berry Bros & Rudd