Recipes: Radish Greens

Growing up, my parents were always introducing us to new and interesting foods. I had no idea that other kids my age weren’t eating sardines, shark, rattlesnake, beets, dates, and venison… We lived in a small town, however, and a lot of the more “exotic” foods were often less accessible to us.

One of the things that I remember my mother enjoying that wasn’t as hard to get was a plate full of radishes. She really liked the peppery little spring vegetable. I remember her slicing off the tops, dipping them in salt, and eating them like they were the best treat in the world. Wanting to enjoy the same things as my Mom, I often joined her, but sometimes found them to be too peppery for my sensitive little mouth.

I’ve since grown to enjoy heat in foods and often add radishes to my salads – although I rarely snack on them the way Mom still does. What I did find, however, is that those radish greens she used to cut off and toss are both edible and quite tasty!

You can drop the greens into soups as an added green element, but my favorite preparation of the greens is to create a pesto with them:

Radish Green Pesto

  • 2 large handfuls of fresh radish leaves, stems removed (the leaves only stay fresh for a day or so)
  • 1 ounce hard cheese (such as pecorino or parmesan), shaved or grated
  • 1 ounce nuts, such as pistachios (what I use), almonds, or pinenuts (I’ve read that you should avoid walnuts but have never tried it myself)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more to add for the consistency you want
  • salt and pepper

Place everything in a food processor and process in short pulses until smooth; scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. This will produce a thick pesto. You can add more oil and pulse again to thin the consistency to what you prefer.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pack into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator; use within a few days or freeze.


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