Radish Greens Pesto: How to Use these Edible Leaves

Are radish greens edible? You bet they are! While most of us use the root, the radish tops are a delicious bonus crop, meaning we can eat the entire plant. This radish leaf pesto is one of our favorite ways to use them, but I’ve included even more ideas below for using peppery radish greens on your table.

For another flavorful topping or spread, try this easy 5-ingredient cilantro sauce!

radish greens pesto in a glass jar.

Radishes are one of the fastest growing 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 starting place. (Here’s more on growing radish plants in your garden.)

But good news! You don’t have to grow your own radish roots to enjoy these bonus leafy greens. When you bring a bunch of radishes home from the grocery store or farmers market, separate the red head from the leafy greens.

I like to wash and prepare the radishes by removing the root and stem ends and storing them in the fridge. That makes it easy to grab them for snacking. 

sliced radishes with leaves still on.

Preparing Edible Radish Leaves

With the roots removed, wash the leafy tops of the radish plant as you would your favorite salad greens and dry thoroughly. If you have a salad spinner, that’s a great way to remove excess moisture. 

To keep the greens ready for use, I roll them in a damp kitchen towel rather than putting them in a plastic bag, for a couple of reasons. One, I try to avoid using a lot of plastic in my kitchen. But two, I find that the leaves tend to get mushy quickly when placed in a bag. 

What About that Fuzzy Texture?

The leaves of all radishes are edible, but some can have a somewhat coarse texture and be a bit prickly, so they’re not a great addition to a salad. They’re better if they’re processed a bit to remove the coarseness of the leaves. If you’re making up a batch of this flavorful pesto, this will not be noticeable at all. 


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Radish Leaf Pesto

When it comes to using all the parts of a plant and reducing food waste, this delicious pesto is a great solution. Combining just a few healthy ingredients results in a nutritious puree, similar in texture to basil pesto but with a little bit of a spicy kick.

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The radish greens in this pesto have a tendency to maintain their bright green hue without discoloring like traditional pesto does, so it’s a nice bet for a pretty springtime appetizer. 

radish greens pesto in a glass jar from above.

Ingredients

Radish greens The leaves from all radishes are edible, whether red, pink, or white icicle radish. Use what you have! 

Olive oil Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. The recipe doesn’t call for much, but the flavor of the oil will shine through.

Garlic This pungent ingredient adds a little extra spice to the mix. Peel the cloves, but there’s no need to crush them before adding to the recipe.

Cheese — The recipe calls for Pecorino Romano cheese, which is a sheep’s milk cheese. If you don’t have this, Parmesan cheese is a perfect substitute.

Cilantro This optional ingredient adds just a little extra flavor to the pesto, for those of us who love cilantro. 

Making Pesto

Prepare fresh radish greens and remove any woody stems. Place greens in a blender with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. So simple!

Using this Pesto

I serve it over pasta, and my kids love to spread it on crackers or in mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s a nice, flavorful addition to your favorite panini sandwich, too.

radishes in the garden.

Other Ways to Use Edible Radish Leaves

  • Sauté radish greens in a little olive oil as you would any garden green.
  • Chop them and stir them into soups.
  • Young radish leaves are a great addition to green salads.
  • Make this radish leaf salad dressing.
radish leaf pesto in a jar from above.

★ Did you make this radish leaf pesto? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

radish greens pesto in a glass jar.

Radish Greens as Pesto

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This pesto is made from radish greens rather than the more traditional basil. The peppery leaves of radish plants offer a spiciness that will wow your tastebuds!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Radish greens (about two bunches)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
  • small handful of fresh cilantro leaves, optional
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry radish greens. 
  2. Remove woody stems and put in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients. 
  3. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Notes

Parmesan cheese is a good substitute for the Pecorino Romano if you don't have that on hand.

Serve this radish greens pesto over pasta, spread it on crackers, or slather it inside mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches. It's a nice, flavorful addition to your favorite panini sandwich, too.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 0.25 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 178Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 356mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

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Originally published in March 2015; this post has been updated.

radish greens pesto in a glass jar fresh red radishes with greens

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

41 comments… add one
  • Mel Sep 21, 2022 @ 15:48

    Made this pesto without the cheese and it was perfect for me. Just added some salt. I just started learning how to grow radish and am glad to put the greens to use!

    • AttainableSustainable Sep 27, 2022 @ 3:44

      I’m so glad you made it work for you and that you liked it!

  • Katrina Jun 29, 2022 @ 7:43

    I made this last night and it was amazing

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 30, 2022 @ 8:57

      So glad you loved it!

  • Kathleen Dec 13, 2021 @ 11:45

    Wow! Delicious! I won’t be throwing out my radish leaves anymore. Thanks for the recipe.

    • AttainableSustainable Dec 14, 2021 @ 10:14

      Oh good, you’re welcome 🙂

  • Ron Apr 6, 2021 @ 15:42

    I had lots of radish’s and lamented tossing the nice greens.
    I tried this and really liked it. I added Walnuts like I do in my pesto and had it with pesto Tortolini, really good.
    Surprise! My leftover pesto chilled the was the next day on crackers. I think the flavor improved even more overnight. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Attainable Sustainable Apr 24, 2021 @ 9:24

      Thanks for reading and enjoying the recipe, Ron!

  • Sally Feb 17, 2021 @ 13:35

    Was wondering if you can can it like if you were making tomato paste

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 21, 2021 @ 17:04

      This is not an approved recipe for canning, no.

      • Dottie Lipinski Mar 7, 2022 @ 14:03

        Pesto freezes great! that might be a way to save it for later!

        • AttainableSustainable Mar 8, 2022 @ 7:57

          Great idea!

  • Lemongrass Mar 14, 2019 @ 14:23

    I have been adding the young radish leaves to my salads, but I cut them very fine. I’ve just tried the radish pesto and I love it. The sharp taste reminds of arugula pesto. Wonder how a mix of arugula and radish pesto would taste. Here in the Caribbean I have lots of coconut. I grated a few pieces of coconut to the mix and it was heavenly.

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 19:34

    Easy to make and super tasty!

  • tessa May 13, 2015 @ 17:51

    This is quite inventive but I have a peevish question – what if, say, you really don’t like radishes much? Will you, picky person that you are, still think this is good? Or should you stick with basil pesto?

  • Sandra Costanzo Apr 21, 2015 @ 14:31

    Thanks for the pesto idea. I was going to pull all the beautiful tops that my rabbits have been sharing with the compost pile, now with me, if they get any more. Got hot in SWFL early this year so radishes went to tops. Love lg radishes sliced, boiled til tender, drain, add butter, salt & pepper.

  • Ronnica, Striving Stewardess Mar 29, 2015 @ 19:48

    I love pesto…I’ll have to try this when my radishes come up in a few weeks (since the basil won’t be ready yet)!

  • JB Mar 25, 2015 @ 15:42

    Thanks for the recipe! I knew radish greens were edible, but had no idea what to make with them. Getting ready to put some radish seeds in the garden this weekend and see what comes up. If all goes well, it’s radish pesto in a month!

  • Annie @ Montana Homesteader Jun 8, 2014 @ 6:52

    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! 

  • Laura Jun 11, 2013 @ 8:52

    Brilliant!

  • Rose Olivia Swanson May 2, 2012 @ 9:25

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

  • The Country Mumkin Apr 30, 2012 @ 5:01

    Just off to plant some radish!

  • Hobby Hill Farm Apr 30, 2012 @ 5:01

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

  • JoyceAvans Apr 29, 2012 @ 19:14

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

  • Holly Morrison Mar 1, 2012 @ 17:37

    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.

  • The Pocket Farmer Mar 1, 2012 @ 17:37

    That looks delicious! Fantastic color!

  • Attainable Sustainable Mar 1, 2012 @ 17:37

    The rabbits might have to start sharing with you!

  • sarah henry Feb 26, 2012 @ 21:16

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

  • AprilG Feb 13, 2012 @ 14:22

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

  • Alexandra Feb 12, 2012 @ 15:01

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

  • SoniaR Feb 12, 2012 @ 8:27

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

  • Rise and Shine Rabbitry Feb 12, 2012 @ 2:56

    and i have been feeding them to the rabbits!

  • Lynda Lee May 24, 2011 @ 8:00

    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!

  • Outlaw Farmer May 22, 2011 @ 15:17

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

  • Shu Han May 13, 2011 @ 13:06

    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 (:

    https://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/03/panfried-shrimps-with-glass-noodles-in.html

  • Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS May 12, 2011 @ 13:58

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

  • [email protected] May 12, 2011 @ 3:52

    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!

    Mely

  • Living Large May 12, 2011 @ 3:01

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

  • Alana May 11, 2011 @ 14:44

    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!

  • Lisa Carter May 11, 2011 @ 6:52

    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!

    • Kris Bordessa May 12, 2011 @ 7:16

      Knowing that you can eat both the roots and the tops kind of doubles their value, doesn’t it?

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