Radish Greens Pesto

4.54 from 222 votes
30 minutes
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Can you eat radish greens? Absolutely! Save those edible radish tops to make this delicious peppery Radish Greens Pesto recipe. Besides being packed with flavor, radish greens pack a nutritional punch! It’s perfect with pasta, pizza, chicken, fish, and potatoes or any other way you’d use traditional basil pesto.

“Amazing! To think that I have composted those fabulous radish greens for 50 years!”

Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with radish greens scattered around it.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

If you grew up the way I did, you simply did not waste food.

Because of that, I especially love that the culinary trend of cooking with scraps–using as much of vegetable plants as possible–happened. With food prices being what they are, this trend makes total sense. Gardening is also hard work, so you don’t want your hard work ending up in the compost bin.

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. This pesto with radish greens has many of the same ingredients as a traditional basil pesto:  Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and nuts.

This Radish Greens Pesto recipe is:

  • One of the best radish greens recipes you’ll find online with over 200 four and five-star ratings!
  • Easy!
  • Budget-friendly because you’re not wasting anything.
  • Super flavorful with a peppery note similar to arugula.
  • Packed with nutrition that rivals kale! Radish greens are low in calories and are a good protein, iron and potassium source. They are also rich in antioxidants, magnesium vitamin C, and vitamin K. (Source: Healthline)
  • Freezer-friendly!

A Radish Leaf Pesto recipe is also lovely because it stays green even when frozen! No discoloration which happens quickly with basil pesto.

Save the greens from my Radish Salad to make this!

Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with spoon on marble surface with ingredients in the pesto around it.

But first…

Can you eat radish greens?

Yes! You can eat radish greens and this Radish Greens Pesto recipe proves it. The flavor of radish greens varies depending on the variety, ranging from peppery, like arugula, to mild, like spinach. They taste similar to other leafy greens. The younger the greens, the milder their flavor.

Radish greens can be enjoyed raw or cooked, in salads, stir-fries and almost any way that you would use arugula or pesto. They’re packed with nutrition, so you definitely want to eat radish greens!

How to Make Radish Greens Pesto:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe for Radish Greens Pesto along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Radish Greens Pesto in glass jars.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Radish Greens: The texture of radish leaves is why they’re perfect for pesto.  Radish greens have a coarse, rough texture, so use young, tender leaves if possible.  Larger leaves can also be used, but they will be more pungent and peppery. After they’ve been processed into pesto, you won’t notice the roughness at all.
  • Nuts: Any nut that does not have an overpowering flavor that will compete with the radish greens can be used such as almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios or pine nuts. I used almonds because that’s what I had on hand. NUT-FREE SUBSTITUTIONS: Use sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
  • Parmesan Cheese: Most Parmesan cheese contains animal rennet. If you want to keep this Radish Greens Pesto recipe vegetarian, use a rennet-free or vegan Parmesan cheese. For Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano from Parma to be called genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano, the Italian government requires it to contain animal rennet.
  • Lemon Juice: A little lemon juice in the pesto punches up the flavor.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: You don’t need a top-shelf brand of olive oil; just a decent olive oil you enjoy using is fine.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • First, clean the greens: The most challenging part of making this radish greens recipe is cleaning the greens. You want to clean the radish greens well because they can be muddy.
  • To thoroughly wash radish greens, fill a sink with cool water. Place the greens in the sink and gently move them around.  Doing so helps the dirt detach.
  • Let them sit in the water for a few minutes, so the dirt can fall to the bottom of the sink.
  • Remove the leaves then 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 and there are no particles on the bottom of the sink.
  • When you’re confident they’re nice and clean, spin them dry in a salad spinner.
  • After that, pack the leaves into a food processor and you’re ready to roll!
  • Gather and prep the remaining ingredients. Place them in a food processor.
Ingredients in food processor before being pureed.
  • Process until smooth.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
Finished pesto in food processor.
  • That’s it!! A lovely, peppery unique twist on traditional pesto!
Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with spoon on marble surface with ingredients in the pesto around it.

Chef Tip:

  • Radish greens wilt quickly when separated from the root, so refrigerate them. If using the greens in other radish greens recipes such as a radish greens salad, placing them in cold water helps to perk them up.
Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with spoon scooping some up.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you have to cook radish greens?

No, they can be used raw without being cooked as in this radish leaf pesto and they stay green. Small young leaves will have a milder flavor while large, older leaves will be more peppery and pungent with a more coarse texture.

How do you store radish greens?

To keep the roots fresh, it is essential to separate the radish greens from them promptly, especially if you don’t intend to use the greens immediately. After washing and drying the greens thoroughly, you can store them in a plastic bag along with a paper towel in the crisper drawer of your fridge for a maximum of three days.

Can Radish Leaf Pesto be frozen?

Yes, absolutely! Freeze in small airtight containers in the amount you can comfortably use at a time for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with spoon on marble surface with ingredients in the pesto around it.

Storage:

  • Store unused leaves in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with a paper towel in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for a maximum of three days.
  • Store unused pesto in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Freeze in small, airtight containers for up to six months.

Serve with:

More great zero-waste recipes you’ll love!

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Radish Greens Pesto in glass jar with spoon scooping some up.

Radish Greens Pesto

4.54 from 222 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
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.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Sauces Dressings and Marinades
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 390 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups (packed) radish tops - (4 good handfuls) washed and dried
  • 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 1/2 large lemon - juiced (approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, pistachios or pine nuts
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender. (If you can't get all the greens into your processor, work in batches.)
  • 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.

Notes

Makes approximately 2 cups.
May also use a little water if needed to achieve a sauce consistency rather than adding more oil.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Freeze in small containers as desired for up to six months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 383mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.54 from 222 votes (195 ratings without comment)

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121 Comments

  1. I’ve been using radish greens in salads, which we love, but saw this recipe and had to try…just whipped up a batch and it is delish – added some fresh basil from my herb garden as well – can’t wait to try tonight with gluten free pasta…yummy!

    1. Hi, Laurie, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed! I’ll have to give adding a little basil a try; thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I made this with with radish leaves from my backyard garden. I had cashews in the house so I used those. This was so yummy; my family loved it and we ate it all up in just a few days. Everyone was surprised how delicious it was. We spread it on homemade bread. Really easy to make. I just picked some more radishes and I will be using the leaves to make more pesto. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi, Ellen Ruth, Thank you so much and so glad you all enjoyed! We, too, were surprised at how amazingly good this is which is why I had to share! Love that you have radishes from your garden already! Thanks again!

      1. I live in Southern CA so I have a lot of stuff growing all year round. I just made another batch of this pesto sauce. Thank you again for this lovely recipe.

      2. Hi, Ellen Ruth, Thank you so very much and you are very welcome! Glad you enjoy this recipe; it really is a keeper! Thanks again!

    1. Hi, BC, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed! I’ll bet this was amazing with spaghetti squash! Thanks again for the great pairing suggestion!

  3. Great Pesto recipe. Not as strong as basil but a great accompaniment to other Vegs such as tomatoes and eggplant. Loved it!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! So glad you enjoyed. We love this pesto with potatoes and with fish. Love your suggestion to pair it with tomatoes and eggplant! Thanks again!

  4. 5 stars
    This pesto looks really delicious! I can’t wait to try this at home. I’m sure my family will love this too. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  5. Wow! Such a lovely pesto. I tried it with all radish greens and with half spinach. It is so tasty. My husband and son loved the first one – so much. My husband said he might even like it better than basil pesto! High praise indeed. Thanks for the wonderful, waste-saving, delicious recipe!

    1. Hi, Connie! Thanks so much! After I made it the first time, I also thought it was better than basil pesto! So glad you all enjoyed and please stay in touch!

    1. Hi, Maureen, Thanks for your question. I would only give it two or three days as the radish flavor starts to fade. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

      1. Hi, Monne, Thanks so much for your question. I think you’re good to go with about six months or so. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Alane, Thanks for your question. I don’t know of anyone right now but I’m sure it would work fine if that’s what you use regularly to achieve a “cheesy” taste. Perhaps try it without the yeast first. If you like it, then no need to add the yeast. Hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it goes. Thanks again!

      1. 2 years late to the party but can confirm that I made this with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan and it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe! It’s gorgeous.

      2. Hi, Carrie, Never late to the party! Glad you discovered it when you did! Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed. Replacing the parmesan with nutritional yeast for a dairy-free version is genius. Thanks again!

  6. 5 stars
    Wow! I love the Internet! Was just cleaning a beautiful bunch of radishes & wondered: what could I make with these radish leaves? I used half almonds & half walnuts. It’s delicious! I love the idea of serving it with steamed spuds. Thanks for this great recipe!

    1. Thanks, Taza! I know…. radish greens! Who knew! I think I like radish greens pesto better than basil pesto. It stays green! Thanks again and glad you enjoyed!

    1. Hi, Alison, Thanks for your question. Definitely remove them if they’re tough or woody. If you think they’ll blend into the pesto, then I wouldn’t bother. This recipe is all about using up things that people normally toss so you want to use as much as possible. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  7. I just made this– yum!! I added a bit more parm and garlic to mine. Thanks for the idea for using up those radish leaves, they won’t go to waste in this household anymore! I plan to use this over sauteed zucchini, zoodles, sauteed radishes, and maybe even those “miracle noodles”(we’re eating keto hence the low carb/high fat combos). Thanks again!!

    1. Hi, Sharayah, Thanks so much! By all means… one should tweak things to their taste! So glad you enjoyed and please stay in touch!

  8. Carol, this looks so good. Last week I made a carrot top pesto and can’t wait to try this. I shared this recipe on the member page for my co-op farm. We get lots of radishes in our share and I’m sure this recipe will be very popular.

    1. Thanks, Eileen! We really enjoyed the pesto. I LOVE that it doesn’t turn black like basil pesto. It stays a bright vivid green and I did not know until I did this posting how nutritious radish greens are. Even my granddaughter loved it and she’s not into green food!