Monday, May 6, 2013

Vegan Radish Greens Pesto

Leaf to root. 
Save those tops for..
Radish Greens Pesto
The finished product. 

Local english breakfast radishes (soon to be eaten)
 and their gorgeous tops (soon to be pesto). 
I don't generally buy into the asparagus mania that local foodies and gardeners get swept up in at the beginning of each growing season. I reserve my early spring vegetable excitement for the oh-so-humble radish. I adore radishes in all forms, but it is the often-overlooked peppery radish greens that have me marking off the days on the calendar, counting down to spring. I'm calling this a "leaf to root" kind of recipe; foodie frugality at its finest. Shop for radishes as you normally would at the farmers market or grocery store, but make sure the tops are attached. The quality of the leaves will reveal the radishes' overall freshness, so make sure they are bright and crisp. 

Now, there's no denying that radish greens have an abundance of delicious culinary applications (soups, stir frys, salads, dolmades and the list goes on...) but my hands-down favorite use for them is pesto. Prepared exactly as you would a traditional basil based pesto, the finished product has a lightly peppery flavor and is perfect in traditional dishes as well as more spring-y recipes such as veggie heavy pasta or grain salads. Slather some on a big slice of toasted sourdough and top off with fresh cut radishes and I absolutely guarantee that you won't be disappointed. 

Well washed radish tops, pine nuts and sea salt.

Recipe notes: 
I prefer pine nuts, but you can use walnuts in their place or a combination of the two.
The nutritional yeast is optional, but recommended as it gives the pesto a
more traditional cheese-y flavor.

Vegan Radish Greens Pesto Recipe:

2 cups of  well washed packed radish greens 
(about 2 small bunches worth)
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional but recommended)
1tsp lemon juice

Place the washed radish tops, pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, salt, lemon juice and nutritional yeast in the bowl of a food processor or blender. 
Process until the greens have broken down (about a minute). 
Drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until mixture is well incorporated. 
Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid. 
The pesto will keep refrigerated for about a week. 
Pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the surface will help it keep for a bit longer. 
Pesto also freezes spectacularly well,  so why not stock up for the winter??

This won't last long...


  1. Do you use the stems, or just the leaves?

    1. If they're small and tender enough I throw the stems in too! If they are larger and seem tough I recommend removing them, or at least taking off the ends. Enjoy!