Homegrown Radish Leaf Pesto

Yes, I agree that this idea may seem a little bit out there, but please, have faith. This is good. (We even ate the leftovers.)

Here’s how it all went down…

When we were designing our backyard garden, I reserved two square feet for radishes. I did this for three reasons.

One, radishes are ready to be harvested just three short weeks after they’ve been planted. I knew the girls would be ready to see some results sooner than later, so it made sense to plant some quick growers.

Two, my dad loves radishes. I love my dad.

Three, I was told that you can use raw radish leaves in place of the arugula in salads.

No. You cannot. At least not at our house.

But those Cherry Belle’s sure were pretty…

And we were incredibly proud that both of our girls willingly tasted both a raw radish and a leaf.

And I am finally learning how to use some of the features on the fancy camera my hubby gave me five months ago.


I digress.

Determined not to let our beautiful radish tops go to waste, I set out to discover a palatable way to serve these spicy, bitter greens. After reading this post on the Chocolate & Zucchini blog, I knew that pesto was the way to go. To balance the heat, and because it worked so well in my Fava Bean Pesto, I decided to add a little bit of fresh mint. When combined with the traditional pesto trio of pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil, and a generous amount of fresh lemon juice, radish greens become not only palatable, but downright delicious! I promise. Remember, we even ate the leftovers.

As far as the health benefits, radishes and their leaves are one of the top vegetables for detoxification. They help support a healthy liver and kidneys, purify the blood, boost the immune system, and helps skin maintain moisture. Kind of like nature’s collagen. They are also a great source of vitamin C, zinc, and folic acid.

Next time you pick up some radishes, save those tops. Your health and your taste buds will thank you.

Radish Leaf Pesto


Ingredients (Makes two cups):

Radish leaves, 2 cups, lightly packed, tough stems removed
Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2/3 cup, shredded
Pine nuts, 1/3 cup
Extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup
Lemon, 1 large, 1 1/2 small, zest and juice
Fresh mint, 2 tbsp
Garlic, 1 clove, peeled
Organic cane sugar, 1 tsp
Sea salt, 1/2 – 1 tsp, or to taste
Black pepper, 1/2 tsp, or to taste
Ground cayenne pepper, 1/8 tsp, or to taste

Instructions (10 minutes, all active):


Prepare all ingredients as indicated above.

Place all ingredients in a small food processor, and puree for 5 minutes, or until desired consistency is achieved. If a thinner pesto is desired, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: For our family’s dinner, we tossed half of the pesto with eight ounces of cooked linguini, 3 cups of leftover cooked chicken, a cup of cherry tomatoes, some goat cheese, and a few more pine nuts. Served alongside a garden salad, it was the perfect meal for a warm spring evening on the deck. This pesto would also pair nicely with grilled white fish and fennel. As for the remaining pesto, we’ve been enjoying it as a dip for raw vegetables and chips. This pesto is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free. Those sensitive to nuts can omit the pine nuts and add an additional 1/3 cup of cheese.

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4 responses to “Homegrown Radish Leaf Pesto

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