Pungent, peppery radish greens make perfect pesto and pack a nutritional punch! (Today’s post is brought to you by the letter P!)
If you grew up the way I did, you just didn’t waste food. A culinary trend that’s super hot right now when it comes to vegetables is to use as much of the plant as possible. This trend makes total sense. Gardening is also hard work so you don’t want your hard work ending up in the compost bin.
We eagerly anticipate the first radish from our garden each spring. In fact, there could be more photos of first spring radishes on my husband’s Facebook page than photos of our grandkids!
I had heard about making pesto with radish greens and at first, I wasn’t too hip about the idea. After making and trying it, I’m in pesto love and plan to freeze a batch each year just as we do basil pesto.
Radish greens are completely edible. Because of their coarse texture, they don’t work well in salads unless they’re young and very small. They can be cooked like any other green, but there too, you’ll want to use young and tender leaves. The texture of the leaves is why they’re perfect as a pesto. After they’ve been processed into pesto, you won’t notice the texture at all.
Here’s another reason to save those radish greens. According to Livestrong.com, radish greens are a nutritional powerhouse, ranking right up there with broccoli and kale in terms of antioxidants. They’re also high in vitamin C and calcium. Wow!
Radish greens can be muddy. To thoroughly wash them, fill a sink full of cool water. Place the greens in the sink and gently move them around so the dirt detaches. Remove the leaves, drain and rinse the sink, fill the sink again and repeat the process. I do this several times until I’m confident no dirt remains.
Radish greens wilt quickly when separated from the root, so placing them in cool water like this also helps to perk them up. When you’re confident they’re nice and clean, spin dry in a salad spinner. (We like Oxo!) After that, pack the leaves into a food processor and you’re ready to roll!
I own both KitchenAid and Cuisinart food processors and both have served me well. I like my KitchenAid because it’s light and I don’t struggle with lifting it from where it is stored in my kitchen. I use a Cuisinart in my personal chef business. It’s heavy but it’s also heavy-duty and comes with numerous sized bowls. You won’t go wrong with either one!
This pesto has many of the same ingredients as a traditional basil pesto: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and nuts.
Because of their pungent, peppery flavor, I suggest using mild, sweet nuts such as almonds, macadamia or pistachios. If you are allergic to nuts, use sunflower seeds instead.
A little bit of lemon juice in the pesto really punches up the flavor. If you plan to freeze the pesto, leave out the cheese and the garlic and add it when you’re ready to serve it.
Serve with fish, chicken, pasta, potatoes and any other way you would serve traditional pesto. Enjoy!
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Pungent, peppery radish greens make perfect pesto and pack a nutritional punch! Use with chicken, fish, pasta, vegetables, potatoes or any other way you would use traditional basil pesto.
- 4 cups radish tops (packed), washed and dried
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped macadamia nuts or pistachios
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add additional olive oil to achieve a thick sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
If planning to freeze, leave out the cheese and garlic and add when ready to serve.