26 May 2010

Radish Leaf Pesto

I get very excited about produce stands.  Greenmarkets.  Farmer's markets.  Whatever you want to call them.  They are among my favourite things in the world for so many reasons.  The food is local.  It's fresh, picked within just a few days of your purchase, instead of weeks or months ahead like you find in chain groceries like Tesco or Sainsbury's.  You keep the local economy happy.  You keep local farmers in business.  You pay less (since you're cutting out the nefarious middle-man).  They are a treasure.  Interested in buying local?  Here's a whole bunch more reasons to do it, and a handy tool for finding local markets (if you live in the US).

I picked up some amazing veg at the weekend, including a nice bunch of radishes.  With dirt still on them.  With the greens all in a bunch and (seemingly) waving at me.  I have never bought radishes before, but they looked like they wanted to come home with me.  I trolled around for something to do with the greens - were they edible?  Turns out, they absolutely are.  Something about being frugal, avoiding waste, and making something delicious out of things that usually go in the trash... it just makes me feel good... ya know?

I found this recipe for a radish leaf pesto, and thought I'd take a simplified spin on it.  I wanted to really taste the leaves, so I left out the garlic and strong spices, and made a minimalist version with mild ingredients.  I have to say that the leaves smelled GREAT when I chopped them up... like springtime, like laying in the grass, like climbing a tree.  What an amazing scent.  I can't wait to spread this on a sandwich with tomato and feta cheese, to add a little to some risotto or toss it with grilled courgettes.  So excited!

You don't need a food processor for this.  I used my mortar and pestle.  I love that thing.  I have been procrastinating getting a food processor until I settle in one place for a few years... like for a PhD.  I've received an offer from an unnamed university, but haven't accepted the place yet.  No need to buy the big appliances until I know which country I'm going to be living in for a few years, so as not to be confounded with electrical adapter issues.  So, my mortar and pestle is where it's at.

Radish Leaf Pesto

Radish leaves, stems removed and finely chopped
Grated parmesan cheese
Ground almonds
Olive oil
Lemon zest
Dash sea salt

Place all ingredients in a mortar and pestle and mash together, or give it a whir in a food processor.


  1. Mmm I love radish leaves and I love pesto, but I've never combined the two. I'll have to make this after Saturday's market. I used my radish leaves in a salad last week, which, between the leaves, the chive blossoms, and the sriracha dressing, was almost painfully spicy!

  2. What a great idea! I sheepishly admit, I usually just throw out the greens, too. My bad! So does the pesto have the "bite'' of a fresh radish?

  3. Hi Carolyn,

    The greens have a peppery-ness about them, similar to watercress but a bit milder.

    Hope that helps, I definitely recommend experimenting. I can't believe I used to throw these things out!

  4. Hi Kristen! This pesto looks great! I would love to see what the finished dish looks like once you spread it on that sandwich you mentioned! Thanks for sharing! My go-to pesto recipe is
    Primo Pesto

    Thanks for sharing!