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:

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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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Recipe Rating




121 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is genius and is going into my summer rotation. We have radishes every year and lots of them. Thank you, Chef Carol ❤️

  2. 5 stars
    I made this exact to the recipe “almost”. I added two more cloves of garlic cause we like it.

    It turned out perfect. Highly recommend.

  3. 5 stars
    Hate wasting the greens but hadn’t found any recipes until now that I would try again. We’re having this for dinner tomorrow!❤️ Thank you!,

  4. Who knew! I am the only one in my house who loves radishes, so I was doubting the space economy of radishes in my first ever vegetable patch. Made this pesto tonight for the fam – everyone loved it and no one could guess the ingredients. Now I have justification to grow an even a larger batch of radishes next spring! I can’t wait to pull the last of the radishes to do a repeat. Thank you!

  5. Made this pesto today with our extra tops – the boyfriend loves it 🙂
    Just wondering, how long does it keep in the fridge?

    1. Hi, Bailey, Thanks so much for your question and glad you both enjoyed! It should be fine up to 5 days or so. As with anything, after 5 days or so the quality will start to suffer. Thanks again!

  6. Hi! My radish greens are very prickly- will this be the case after it is all blended? Thanks!

    1. Hi, Sara, Thanks so much for your question! I’m assuming the greens are larger and quite rough? Hope there’s nothing actually “prickly.” This pesto is perfect for larger and rougher radish greens because it does all blend together. Larger greens can be pretty tough in a salad and even cooked but again, pesto is the perfect use for them! Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  7. What a great way to make use of radish tops! I just made this after harvesting a bunch of my garden radishes. It’s definitely a bit sharp (which makes sense since it’s radish) but once paired with something else it’s delicious- thanks!

    1. Thanks so much, Asha! So glad you enjoyed. It’s definitely a unique pesto that works well in numerous ways. Thanks again!

  8. Hi! I have both radish greens and carrot top leaves? Can I mix or should they be separate pestos? I’ve heard adding a vitamin C tablet will keep them greener longer.

    1. Hi, Ellen, Thanks so much for your question. I’ve never combined the two so I really can’t say. Don’t see why it wouldn’t work but generally, I think of pesto as a sauce that complements one type of green herb or vegetable. I’d probably make separate pestos with both. If you’re a little short on one of them, I think adding flat-leaf parsley would be a good option to stretch it a bit. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

      1. I love this recipe, and so appreciate the chance to – not – waste produce! I can’t do dairy or nuts, but can have some seeds, so used toasted pine nuts, and added tahini, which has a texture that mimics Parmesan – somewhat. I am excited to continue using this recipe! And experimenting with variations on it, as well.

      2. Hi, Mary, Thanks so very much! I totally agree about not wasting produce if at all possible. Love your suggestions for substitutions. Other readers have used nutritional yeast in place of the cheese. Vegan parmesan “cheese” will also work nicely. Thanks again!

      3. Great recipe! A friend gave me a bunch of organic radishes from her garden with the greens looking perfect. She suggested to make pesto. I found this recipe and had all the ingredients so I followed the recipe exactly. My husband liked this radish leaf pesto better than Pesto with basil leaves! Thanks, glad your recipe helped me use these nutritious leaves rather than discard them.

      4. Hi, Lynn, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed! It truly does have a wonderful flavor and I love that it doesn’t change color like basil pesto does. Thanks again!

  9. HI- excited to try this with baby white turnip greens. We do have nut allergy in house so using sunflower seeds. Do I get raw or roasted?

    1. Hi, Lisa, Thanks so much for your question! You could do either. Roasted will give you a little more depth of flavor. Thanks again and hope this works for you!

  10. Wow. This was Unexpectedly amazing. The 2nd time we made this we add a little Hazel and Ash Organic Smoked Paprika and Mango hot sauce. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Andrea, Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed! Love that you kicked it up with additional spices. When we make basil pesto in the summer, we now add a jalapeno for some kick. Soooo good! Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Cindy, Thanks so much for your question. I’ve never done that but I don’t see why you can’t. I’d blanch them quickly first in salted water then place in an ice bath to cool quickly. You might not have quite the zing of the radish leaves, but adding fresh to the mix should help that. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  11. Thanks for the great idea! Just wondering…if freezing, why do you leave out the cheese and garlic? What happens if you freeze it all ready-made? Also, how did you know? I’d like to increase my knowledge of what I can easily freeze so this will be super helpful to know. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Dee, Thanks so much for your question. You certainly could freeze it already completely prepared. I think freshly grated cheese really perks up the flavor after it’s been frozen. Same thing with the garlic–it will really perk up the flavor. Also, if for any reason you get a temporary thaw going on (one of the kids left the door slightly open or a power outage), you could be looking at a possible food safety issue because of the raw garlic in the oil. Thanks again, hope that answers your question and hope you enjoy!

  12. Hi, I have radish AND turnip greens right now. Do you think that adding the turnip greens to the mix would work?

    1. Hi, Tiffany, Thanks so much for your question. You can make pesto from many things and I’m sure turnip greens would also work. Keep in mind, though that the turnip greens won’t have that radish “zing” so it will probably have a milder flavor. Thanks again for your question and hope you enjoy!

  13. Am sure glad Food Lion saved the leaves for me 🙂 Rabid fan of radish I am. Used to make an Indian Dhall from the leaves till I came upon this pesto recipe. Easy ! Thanks !

  14. 5 stars
    This is some of the best pesto I’ve had. I love the flavor with the radish greens, so delicious. I also added a few pine nuts to mine. I plan on making this again next week. Thank you!!