Radish Leaf and Basil Pesto

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

I was a bit disappointed when my husband pulled out the radishes. I like nearly all other root vegetables, some more than others, but these peppery little knobs are not my favorite. After scouring my favorite cookbooks and websites for recipes, I felt sorely disappointed in the lack preparations that offered something more than just slicing and pairing with one’s favorite salad, sandwich or dip.

Things changed, however, when I focused instead on radish greens. As it turns out, the leaves of this little root are, in fact, edible and are perfect for making pesto! I found a great many radish leaf pesto recipes and decided to take the idea and make it my own. Pesto is, essentially, a puree of raw greens, nuts and hard cheese. So, I grabbed what I had on hand that fell into these three categories and this is what I came up with:

1 bunch radish greens

about 2 cups packed fresh basil

1/3 cup crunchy, unsalted almond butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 large cloves garlic

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp ground ginger

All you need to do is clean your greens, peel your garlic, toss everything in the food processor, and blend until smooth. You can save your pesto to use as sandwich spread or a snack with crackers (you could even dip those sliced raw radishes into their own pesto!), or turn it into a quick dinner like I did by mixing it into your favorite pasta.

Now it’s your turn!

Start with this basic equation: radish greens + nuts + hard cheese = pesto. Post your radish leaf pesto variations in the comments below and tell us how you use it!

More Ideas For Greens And Garlic Chives

A few more ideas from Korean cooking to use greens, garlic scapes/garlic chives, scallions, and whatnot!

  • A Korean-style fish stew (similar to the chicken stew with greens in this week’s newsletter). Note that this can also be made with leftover grilled, broiled or baked fish fillets: just add the fish at the very end of the cooking time and heat gently to warm it.
  • A side dish of cucumber and garlic chives, from Aeri’s Kitchen.
  • And also from Aeri’s Kitchen, a snack: garlic chive pancakes! (Think scallion pancake, but with garlic chives instead).


Party On My Plate

There’s not a heck of a lot to say about this except it was so good, I made it two days in a row. I am a dirty repeater like that. I found myself rationing out the radishes and strawberries so I’d have enough for more salads. Mission accomplished. Oh, and it kind of looks like a little party, I think.  It’s a very celebratory salad.

The inspiration for this came from So Good and Tasty‘s blog, and I basically took the core ingredients from it, and then did a little tweaking.

Change the proportions as you like, of course.

  • ~2 cups of romaine, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
  • 5 large radishes, quartered
  • 1 scallion, diced (I used white and green parts)
  • 2 tbsp cashews, roughly chopped
  • good handful of basil, thinly sliced
  • mozzarella cheese, diced into small pieces

For the dressing, I mixed together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and grapeseed oil with a pinch of salt and pepper each. I don’t measure a lot, but it’s easy to adjust to taste and whisk up.

So, combine your salad, top with dressing right before serving. I love the sweet, salty, bitter, crunchy combination. Truth be told I can eat the whole thing myself (though it’s probably 2 servings). And the 2nd day I made this, that’s  just what I did.