Using radish greens to make pesto is a great way to reduce food waste. Save the green tops from a bunch of radishes and swap them out for basil to make this easy and nutritious pesto.
Radish greens pesto is great tossed with pasta, used as a sauce for chicken, red meat or fish and delicious as a spread!
True story: I used to really dislike radishes.
But, then I discovered roasted radishes and my mindset gradually began to change.
Slowly but surely I started buying bunches of these little red gems and learning to like them.
My favorite way though is pickled as a garnish for tacos!
In the normal grocery store, radishes are usually sold in bunches without the greens attached.
But, if you shop at a natural foods store, farmers market or even Whole Foods, radishes will often be sold with their lovely greenery attached.
And, as someone who despises wasting food, I was dead set on finding a way to use and enjoy radish greens.
I say enjoy because radish greens are quite peppery!
No surprise there really considering that’s the main adjective I’d use to describe the taste of radishes themselves.
WHAT TO DO WITH GREENS FROM RADISHES?
So, the thought experiment commenced of how to use radish greens from my latest purchase.
But honestly, I do that all the time and wanted to try something new.
A radish greens pesto was then decided on instead and here we are with this lovely vibrant green sauce.
You can also eat radish greens raw if you’re up for that peppery bite.
I suggest mixing the greens in a salad with some other milder greenery like mizuna or just regular romaine, green/red leaf lettuces if you take that approach.
It’s also best to use the smaller, younger and therefore more tender radish greens when consuming them raw.
The older the greens get, the “fuzzier” they become which can be texturally off-putting to some people.
I’m partial to this pesto using the radish greens only because once made, there are so many ways to use it!
It’s just as perfect tossed in pasta as it is served with a meat of your choosing or spread on some toasted bread.
So if you’ve been one in the past to cut off and discard radish greens, now you know you can indeed use them!
That said, let’s get to this pesto recipe.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE RADISH GREENS PESTO
To make this pesto recipe you’ll need:
- radish greens from 1 bunch of radishes
- 1 cup shoots, sprouts or other mild baby greens – I used pea shoots (see them here on this crepe cake!)
- 1 small clove of garlic
- toasted pepitas
- toasted pine nuts
- salt and pepper
- fresh lemon juice
- extra virgin olive oil
Traditional pesto recipes use basil as their base green. Granted, you can make pesto out of all types of greens, even zucchini!
The radish greens in this pesto recipe replace the traditional basil and the pea shoots (or other green of your choice) help to balance out some of the intense peppery flavor from the radish greens.
HOW TO MAKE PESTO WITH RADISH GREENS
To make the pesto, simply add the radish greens and all other ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor and process until very finely chopped.
You may want to pulse the mixture and scrape down the sides a few times during this process.
Then, with the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until a smooth consistency results.
If you like your pesto thinner, add more olive oil (or water) to the food processor until you get the desired consistency.
I find 1/4 cup of olive oil to be the perfect amount for creating a pesto that’s thick enough to spread on toast or dollop on top of cooked meat but also “saucy” enough to be tossed with pasta and coat it easily.
WHAT DOES RADISH GREENS PESTO TASTE LIKE?
I truly love the flavor of this pesto. Its taste is almost as vibrant as its bright green color!
With a slightly earthy flavor, fun peppery bite and hints of nuttiness from the pepitas and pine nuts, it’s really a lovely unique version of pesto.
This radish green pesto is another one to add to the list.
While it may evoke feelings of spring, since I buy radishes all year round, it’s a recipe I plan to be making regardless of the season.
Check out my guide to radishes for lots of other information on buying, storing and preparing radishes!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RADISH LEAVES?
Besides producing an incredibly tasty pesto, these greens have some impressive health benefits too!
Radish greens are packed with vitamin C. The greens actually contain as much as six times more than the radish bulb itself! (source)
Sulforaphane, an antioxidant compound found in cruciferous vegetables that has been shown to help fight cancer among other detoxifying properties, can also be found in radish greens.
There’s also a good dose of dietary fiber found in the green stems which can be helpful in improving constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
Other notable vitamins and minerals found in radish greens include magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, calcium and vitamin A.
SUBSTITUTIONS TO THIS PESTO RECIPE
You’ll notice there’s no cheese in this radish pesto. As someone that doesn’t eat dairy any longer, I don’t include cheese when making pesto any more.
For this specific recipe, I prefer it that way as the brightness of the radish greens shines through.
Vegan substitutes like nutritional yeast can be added though if you prefer a “cheesy” touch to your pesto.
Of course, parmesan cheese or pecorino romano can both be used for a more traditional approach.
If there’s a nut allergy in your house, use more pepitas or replace the pine nuts with sunflower seeds instead.
Other nuts can also be used if preferred such as walnuts, macadamias, pistachios or almonds instead of the pine nuts.
As mentioned earlier, the 1 cup of shoots, sprouts or baby greens is up to you!
If preferred, basil can also be used here which would produce a nice hint of a traditional pesto along with the radish greens.
HOW TO USE RADISH GREENS PESTO
My forever favorite will always be to serve pesto with freshly cooked pasta and that holds true for this radish pesto as well.
Pesto pasta was a weekly dinner for me growing up and always evokes a sense of nostalgia.
Outside of pasta though there are many ways to use this pesto:
- Dollop it on a pizza like this zucchini pesto pizza.
- Serve with grilled meat like venison backstrap or a burger like this halloumi lamb burger.
- Use as a spread on sandwiches. It’d be killer on this roast beef smoke gouda grilled cheese!
- Pair with fish like this baked wild sockeye salmon or air fryer scallops.
- Dollop into soups like mung bean vegetable soup or Tuscan kale soup.
- Use as a dip for fries like purple sweet potato fries, jicama fries or parsnip fries.
MORE PESTO RECIPES TO TRY:
- 1 bunch radish greens, washed and dried (about 6 cups loosely packed)
- 1 cup loosely packed sprouts, shoots or other baby green(I used pea shoots)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 3 tablespoons pepitas, toasted (*see note)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (*see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Remove lid, scrape down the sides as needed.
- Replace lid and with the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until combined. If you prefer a smoother texture than shown, use a little more olive oil or water until desired consistency is achieved.
- Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
*To toast pine nuts and pepitas, place in a small skillet over medium-low heat until starting to lightly brown giving the skillet a shake every minute or so while toasting. Let cool for a few minutes before adding to the food processor.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 204mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 4g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.