We can’t count the number of times we’ve washed and stored radish leaves with great intentions of using them, only to forget them in the produce bin for weeks. This recipe for Radish Green Pesto is our answer to getting those greens used. Radish leaves are hardy and bitter, but when mixed with cheese, oil and garlic, they mellow out and make for a great pesto.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Recipe
First and foremost, cooking root to stem is always a good feeling. When you can use the entirety of a piece of produce, like carrots and carrot tops or radishes and radish tops, you feel like a damn magician. And secondly, radish greens have a ton of flavor, but on their own they’re quite bitter. This recipe addresses that bitterness and puts it to good use in a sauce loaded with ingredients to balance it out.
And finally, we just love a good pesto. The way we make pesto isn’t traditional—we use a food processor instead of a mortar and pestle—but it’s always a perfect weeknight meal.
Ingredients In Radish Green Pesto
Radish greens (aka radish tops) aren’t available for purchase on their own, so grab two bunches of radishes with their greens still intact. Look for greens that are vibrant in color and firm (not wilted). We have good luck at farmers’ markets and local co-ops. Once trimmed from the radish, they’ll need a really good rinse.
Cilantro is our go-to for this pesto. But if cilantro tastes like soap to you, use parsley or basil, or a combo of whatever you like.
We like to use a combo of grated fresh Parmesan cheese and Manchego cheese. Feel free to use only Parmesan if you prefer.
Nuts or Seeds
Toasted pepitas are our preference for this pesto—they pair wonderfully with cilantro. If you prefer a more traditional pesto use pine nuts or even toasted walnuts.
A dash of coriander really enhanced the cilantro, pepitas and manchego. We also use cracked black pepper and (Morton) kosher salt.
Garlic is a must in any pesto. You’ll need just one clove of garlic for this recipe.
Oil is a large part of the base for any pesto sauce. Because of that, we recommend opting for a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
How to Use Radish Leaf Pesto
- Toss it with cooked pasta and a splash of pasta water.
- Spoon it over roasted radishes or roasted carrots.
- Thin it out with additional oil and some lemon juice and use it as a vinaigrette.
- Spread some pesto over toasted multi-grain, top with grated Parmesan and broil until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with soup, salad, or dip in olive oil.
More Pesto Recipes to Cook
- If you love a classic basil pesto, check out our Go-To Triple-Herb Pesto.
- For a similar root-to-stem pesto recipe, check out our Carrot Top Pesto.
- When you’re in the mood for something more interesting and loaded with umami, try our Miso Pesto Ramen.
- Make a meal out of pesto with our Pesto Salmon and Pasta.
- Try a Northern Italian version of pesto that will surprise you called Trapanese Pesto.
- Put another leafy green to use in our Arugula Pesto.
Radish Greens Pesto
- ¼ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1½ cups radish greens, washed very well and spun dry
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup grated Manchego, or additional Parmesan
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Toast pepitas in a skillet over medium heat, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Add radish greens, cilantro, Parmesan, Manchego, garlic, coriander, pepper, salt and cooled pepitas to the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse until mixture is minced; scrape down sides of bowl.
- With processor running, slowly stream in oil.
- Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Use as desired or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
I replaced the pumpkin seeds with toasted walnuts, the cilantro with parsley and left out the coriander.
I served it mixed into a kale, ramen, beef bouillon soup.
The radish leaves are bitter but the kale matches it’s hardiness.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Nutty and delicious! I was pleasantly surprised.
Hi Amy! Love to hear it was delicious. Such a tasty way to use use radish greens!