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.

Let’s make it!

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
    I got some radishes with gorgeous tops from the grocery store today, and I didn’t want to waste them! Looked online to see if they were edible, found this recipe and decided to go for it… Except I can’t eat dairy! Subbed a spoonful of miso paste for the Parmesan, and it was amazing! Thank you for the idea of radish pesto!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe! It was very easy and delicious! I used almonds which added some surprising sweetness. It needed a little more lemon juice for my taste but that’s what’s so good about this recipe. You can really tweek it for extra heat, add a little basil or whatever you like! Great in or on eggs! Thank you Carol!!

  3. 5 stars
    I, as others, was searching to see if radish greens were edible. I found this recipe, just made it and we both love it!

    1. Hi, Tina, Thanks so much for your question. I’m not a dietician or nutritionist. Your best bet is to consult with someone with a degree in that area. Thanks again.

  4. This is delicious! I got a bunch of radishes at the farmers’ market and felt so bad wasting the greens so this recipe was perfect. It’s a little sharper than basil pesto but in a good way. Thanks for the recipe!!

  5. 4 stars
    Thanks for this recipe. I found some beautiful tiiiny radishes with huge tops and couldn’t bear to throw them away. I tried this pesto and wow. It is bitter/spicy! It’s got quite the kick. I added fresh basil to try to sweeten it up and now it’s a little more tame. If you like radishes, this recipe is fun 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I grew some radishes on an allotment I took over late in the season, nice white radishes and loads of greens. Made this pesto using walnuts and those radish tops, it is great tasting and vivid to look at. Takes barely 30 minutes. Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    so nice to find recipes that go the distance! We also added a bit of Tahini, powdered garlic, and a mix of nuts and seeds – really yummy, thanks so much, this is going on pasta and pizza!

  8. 4 stars
    Someone gave me a whole bunch of Daikon Radishes, with the greens intact. I usually toss them in the green-waste. But, they were picked that day so decided to look for something to do with them. That’s how I stumbled upon this recipe.

    I made a 1/2 batch because I’d never eaten them before. Also, used a Meyer Lemon, and traditional Pine Nuts. (Wish the original recipe said why the did not use Pine Nuts).

    All, in all. I’m happy and have two more meals worth of pesto. will make this again.

  9. Searched… Can you eat radish tops and found all these yummy looking recipes! Looking forward to trying them all out. Many thanks!

    1. Hi, Robyn, Thanks so very much and hope you enjoy! Yes, radish tops can be used in numerous ways but I really think you’ll love this pesto. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  10. 5 stars
    Wow! I just made my first radish top pesto and it was divine. My teenage boys said it was the best they’ve had! I also used it on my toasted tomato sandwich and it was pure perfection.
    This recipe is a keeper!

  11. I’m totally addicted to pesto made with previously-wasted green tops. I’ve been making it with celery tops but tonight I tried the radish leaves, fresh from my garden. I followed the recipe and it was nice but quite bitter. I don’t really mind but my friends might so I added some tahini, a little honey and extra lemon, one by one, continually tasting. The end result was amazing! Thank you for your recipe, though I’m sorry I had to tweak it a bit! 🤭

    1. Hi, Jennie, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! No problem with the tweaking–everyone has different tastes and it may have just been your radish tops; some can be quite potent. Thanks again!

  12. Hi! Great recipe! If subbing out for sunflower seeds, I only have dry roasted and salted in my pantry. Should that be ok?

    1. Hi, Kristine, Thanks so much for your question! I think either would be fine. If using the salted, just be sure to not add any more salt or be careful adding more. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

      1. Hi, Zoe, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! Zero-waste cooking is something I really strive for. Thanks again!

  13. Just back from the allotment with a bunch of radishes, wondering whether the leaves may be edible, then found this recipe. It’s amazing. And so nice to be eating rather than composting them. Hungry too so mercifully quick to make. Delicious! Will become an allotment day staple. Thank you for posting.

      1. Hi, Teresa Marie, Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed! Love the idea of doing it with basil and you can definitely use almost any nut. Thanks again!

  14. Hello! My daughter told me not to toss the radish tops in the compost so I looked here and tried this recipe. Very nice. I used toasted walnuts. The whole mixture tasted a little too sharp so I added a few spoons of buttermilk powder. Sorry for all the greens I have composted over the years. My tops were prickly but it came out OK after processing. 😋

    1. Hi, Lauren, Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed! Love your tip about adding a little buttermilk powder to reduce some of the sharpness. I like the “zing,” but some people may not. Thanks again!