Recipe: Radish Leaf Pesto

Radishes are one of the fastest ripening crops a gardener can plant. If you’re aching to have something – anything – that you grew yourself on the dinner table, radishes are a good bet. They’re one of the earliest crops you can plant, and are ready in just 3-4 weeks from planting date. But don’t stop at eating the rosy roots. I discovered a couple of years ago that the radish leaves are edible too. (I have no idea how I grew up without knowing this!)

My writing colleague, April Paffrath, shared a recipe for radish leaf pesto on Wicked Tasty Harvest a couple of years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Spicier than pesto made with basil leaves, radish leaf pesto is a fabulous way to stretch the harvest from an early spring garden. I’ve served it over pasta, and my kids love to spread it on crackers or in mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches. It has a tendency to maintain its bright green hue without discoloring like traditional pesto does, so it’s a nice bet for a pretty springtime appetizer, too.

pesto, garden, recipe, radish

If you know me at all, you know that I didn’t make this without modifying April’s recipe just a bit. Here’s my version:

Radish Leaf Pesto

  • Leaves from two bunches of radishes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 big cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
  • small handful of fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt

Thoroughly wash and dry radish leaves. Remove woody stems and put in blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

This article has 26 comments

  1. I wasn’t sure about planting a container garden on my apartment balcony this year, but now I want to try this! Good inspiration. Thanks!

  2. My husband has a produce job and says he tells customers that radish leaves are similar to arugula – the peppery bite – and many cruciferous vegetables have that same quality. Not all of these would make good pesto, of course. Our community garden plot doesn’t get plowed in time for a real “early” spring garden up here in upstate NY. Radishes are a good crop because you can plant them at various times during the gardening season if your soil isn’t too hot. I had stopped growing them but may try this out. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love radishes, I grow them every year I have a garden. I had no idea about the leaves. Thanks for this post.

  4. Mely@Mexicoinmykitchen
    Thursday 12 May 2011, 3:52 am

    Thanks fro sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday, I just got some radishes from my local farmer and now I have a great use for the leaves thanks to you.

    Have a happy day!


  5. Goodness, look at that color! I’m going to try this when our radishes come in. Yumm!

  6. cool! I didn’t know you could eat the leaves! that’s a great idea! I love pesto, and I like experimenting with the herbs/leaves that go into it so this sounds like a great idea (:

  7. I’m most def gonna serve this at my farm party this weekend!

  8. I know it may be a shock to some of you that until this year – I never planted a garden! Now that being said, I did grow up in a family that always had gardens…both at my grandparents house and my own…..but I personally have never put in a garden – until this year! Having just completed the digging and the hauling of compost and the buying of the plants and seeds….I am having a grand time getting my feet and hands dirty and have high hopes of living well during the season of my garden! I do have to share, though, that I didn’t plant radishes this year – but did have the neighbor bring me some and they were so large I thought they were beets – until I cut them open and realized they were not! And…I remember my grandfather slicing his large radishes and frying them as one would do to garlic…in olive oil slowly! I did that with the batch brought me the other day and OMG…they are divine fixed that way! I believe you could even fry them a bit more and put them into salad the way people do fried onions! Try it…you my like it! And yes as well to the greens….try them with balsamic vinegar or on top of your white pizza! Yum….yum!

  9. Rise and Shine Rabbitry
    Sunday 12 February 2012, 2:56 am

    and i have been feeding them to the rabbits!

  10. How beautiful! I’ve made arugula pesto before but had never thought of using radish leaves… Mahalo nui!

  11. Cilantro is really good for you and must improve the flavor. I like radish sprouts and cannot wait to try radish leaf pesto. Thanks!

  12. I always use them in my whole juicing. I will have to try this. I have some growing in my basement right now :)

  13. Love the sound and idea of this — look forward to giving it a whirl — would never have occurred to me.

  14. Attainable Sustainable
    Thursday 1 March 2012, 5:37 pm

    The rabbits might have to start sharing with you!

  15. The Pocket Farmer
    Thursday 1 March 2012, 5:37 pm

    That looks delicious! Fantastic color!

  16. I use my cilantro stems to do the same thing….cilantro pesto, vegan, with walnuts and a cilantro ranch dressing w/ veganaise mayo. yummy and no waste. hated throwing these bright green stems in compost. worms ate them. haha. also, you can freeze them and they will still work in pesto and dressing when you have time to make.

  17. I made some yesterday but added spinach to the mix to add additional nutrients, color and flavor.

  18. What a vibrant green color!! I can’t wait to make this!

  19. The Country Mumkin
    Monday 30 April 2012, 5:01 am

    Just off to plant some radish!

  20. Rose Olivia Swanson
    Wednesday 2 May 2012, 9:25 am

    I have radishes coming up now! Thanks for the reminder to save the greens!

  21. [...] If you’ve got radishes aplenty, you might also want to try making radish leaf pesto. [...]

  22. […] about this site than just food, but it’s definitely a component. I’m determined to make radish leaf pesto this […]

  23. I was making roasted radishes the other day and wondered if I could do something with the greens. I didn’t have time to go searching for a recipe so just composted them. Next time I have radishes I’m definitely going to try this! 

Leave a Reply