Many Britons will be heading out this weekend for dinner, and Italian cuisine is a firm favourite.

However, it’s possible to get authentic, tasty pasta without paying a small fortune at a restaurant.

James Martin’s watercress pesto spaghetti with marinated tomatoes is the perfect Saturday night dinner.

The superstar chef said: “This Watercress Pesto Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes from Celia Brooks is really quick to make, the watercress pesto is ready in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti! This recipe is a great way to make your classic pesto and pasta meal more nutrient dense.”

James’ recipe serves four people but quantities can be amended depending on party size.

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  • 400g spaghetti or other pasta
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Two teaspoons best balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

For the watercress pesto

  • Two small garlic cloves, any sprout removed
  • 100g watercress, leaves and stems, washed and drained, roughly chopped
  • Half teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • One tablespoon lemon juice
  • 50g pine nuts or cashew nuts
  • 20g Parmesan or vegetarian alternative, finely grated
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

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  1. Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a small bowl and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Chuck in the torn basil leaves and stir.
  3. For the pesto, whizz the garlic cloves in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it forms a paste. Season to taste.
  4. Cook the spaghetti until it’s cooked to your liking or according to packet instructions. Drain the pasta quickly but do not let it drain too dry. This is because a little moisture will help distribute the pesto. Put the pasta back in the hot pan and stir in the pesto fully.
  5. Plate up the spaghetti, dividing it into four warmed bowls. Garnish with the marinated tomatoes from earlier. Finally, lightly drizzle over some olive oil. Eat right away. Enjoy! Mop up any extra pesto with crusty or garlic bread.

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