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.

bright green pesto in a small wooden bowl with a small wood spoon set in it

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.

radishes with greens in a colander on a counter with manchego cheese, garlic, coriander, pepitas, olive oil and cilantro

Ingredients In Radish Green Pesto

Radish Greens

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.

orecchiette coated in pesto in a large white bowl

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

Radish Greens Pesto

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 1 ¼ cups
Category Sauce, Sauce/Condiment
Cuisine American/Italian


A vibrant and savory pesto sauce made with radish greens, cilantro and pepitas. A great way to use up radish greens!


  • ¼ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 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
  • 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.
    cilantro, radish greens, grated cheese, nuts, and spices in a food processor
  • Pulse until mixture is minced; scrape down sides of bowl.
    minced herbs in a food processor
  • With processor running, slowly stream in oil.
    pesto in a food processor
  • 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.


Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 
We love to serve  rigatoni or orecchiette pasta with this pesto.


Serving: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 3.5gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 129mgFiber: 0.5g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
orecchiette coated in pesto in a large white bowl

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    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.