This radish greens pesto recipe is so light and flavourful, you’ll regret all those times you threw away the tops.
Today we walked down to the farmer’s market on a mission to find radishes.
And not just any radishes as I could buy a bag in the store. But I wanted to find radishes with healthy greens on top.
To describe the last week in Nova Scotia as unseasonably warm is an understatement.
It has been sweltering.
My tomato plants are loving it despite looking like wilted weeping willow trees at the end of day.
And I heard that farmers were concerned about their greens surviving to make it to market.
But when we arrived I saw lots of gorgeous greens. And even more beautiful radishes.
I thought I’d just buy the regular red cherry belle radishes but when I saw the French breakfast radishes with their white tips I just couldn’t choose.
So I got both.
This isn’t the smartest idea as I’m still working through my rhubarb recipes.
Perhaps getting the radishes weren’t the most responsible thing to do. But the great thing about radish greens pesto is that it’s SO quick to make.
So I figured I would chop off the tops to make the pesto and the radishes would keep in the fridge until I finish my rhubarb recipes.
Don’t Throw Away Radish Greens!
Radish leaves are edible, and also healthy like so many other greens.
I know that when we buy radishes in the supermarket the greens are cut off and they are cleaned off.
But radish greens are a lovely peppery flavour, almost like arugula or watercress. Others say nettles.
They make a really interesting pesto, similar to using turnip or beet greens.
Types of Radishes
Radishes are originally from Egypt, there is documentation of them almost 3000 BC.
But most often Asia is credited with cultivating different types of radishes.
The most common one we know from Asia is the daikon radish, most often known as the pickle on banh mi sandwiches.
It’s also one of the most common in the Philippines.
When I chatted with someone on Instagram from South Korea, he said that the round white radishes are now possible to find but the red ones are not.
How to Choose Radishes
If they look good, they are probably good. You want firm radishes without cracks or signs that they are old.
The radish leaves will tell you if they are good. They should look fresh.
Both the radish tops and body are quite delicate and only last 3-4 days unless you take care before you put them in the fridge.
To use them take the leaves off when you get home – and make this radish greens pesto.
You can separate and clean them in a salad spinner and put them in a plastic bag with some paper towel and they can last up to 5 days.
Although after a day or two they wilt so you may want to cook them.
I have a lazy/smart habit of just leaving things in the salad spinner and I think they stay fresh the longest.
To process the radishes put them into a bowl of water to remove dirt. Dry them and put them into bags.
They should last up to a week.
Trim the root ends when you are ready to use them. Do not do this in advance.
How to Make Radish Leaf Pesto
This recipe is so quick but also very forgiving. It follows the basic principles of a basil pesto.
In fact, if you find the radish leaves are too spicy you can always substitute one cup of basil for one cup of the radish leaves to smooth out the flavour.
- radish greens
- parmesan cheese, pecorino or grana padano is also great. Or leave it out and make it a vegan radish pesto – similar to a French pistou
- garlic, optional. If radish greens are spicy you may want to omit.
- nuts (I used cashew nuts because we had them)
- sea salt
- lemon juice
How to Use Radish Top Pesto
Radish pesto is so versatile I freeze it in 1/2 cup portions and use it in a variety of meats and vegetables.
- Replace tomato sauce on a pizza with pesto, top with chicken, goat cheese, orange pepper and red onion
- Marinate steak and toss in a bit of chili flakes
- Use it as a pasta sauce
- Add it to French bread for an easy side
- Make a chickpea salad by tossing with radish green pesto, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and red pepper
- Add it to minestrone and other soups to add freshness
- Mix with a bit of white wine vinegar for a grilled vegetable dressing
- Toss with warm potatoes for a salad
- Add a bit of oil and white wine vinegar to marinate chicken.
Radish Greens Pesto Recipe
The original zero waste recipe, some people think the radish greens are better than the actual radish.
Radish greens are high in vitamins and antioxidants. Not only healthy they have a great fresh flavour.
- 2 cups radish greens
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
If you don't like really peppery greens like arugula substitute 1 cup of basil for 1 cup of the greens.