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Radish Greens from the Garden: Transform them into Pesto!

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

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.

Plant radishes as soon as your ground can be worked, and they’ll be ready in just 3-4 weeks. You can plant radishes all summer long, and even into cooler autumn weather. Just plant a new row every couple of weeks and you’ll have radishes and radish greens ready to harvest all season long.

fresh red radishes with greens

Edible radish greens

Don’t stop at eating the rosy roots, though. Radish leaves are edible too. But while radish greens are edible, they’re not particularly palatable eaten out of hand. They’re a bit prickly, so not a great addition to a salad. They’re better if they’re processed a bit to remove the coarseness of the leaves.

My colleague, April Paffrath, shared a recipe for radish leaf pesto at Wicked Tasty Harvest 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.

Related: Fermented radishes and turnips

radish greens pesto in a glass jar from above

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

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.

radish greens pesto in a glass 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: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

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

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Radish greens , about two bunches
  • 2 big 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. Easy, peasy.

Notes

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: 8 Serving Size: 0.25 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 101Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 67mgCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 4g

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Originally published in March 2015. 

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

29 comments… add one
  • Lisa Carter May 11, 2011, 6:52 am

    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 am

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

  • Alana May 11, 2011, 2:44 pm

    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!

  • Living Large May 12, 2011, 3:01 am

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

  • [email protected] May 12, 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!

    Mely

  • Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS May 12, 2011, 1:58 pm

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

  • Shu Han May 13, 2011, 1:06 pm

    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

  • Outlaw Farmer May 22, 2011, 3:17 pm

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

  • Lynda Lee May 24, 2011, 8:00 am

    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!

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

    and i have been feeding them to the rabbits!

  • SoniaR Feb 12, 2012, 8:27 am

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

  • Alexandra Feb 12, 2012, 3:01 pm

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

  • AprilG Feb 13, 2012, 2:22 pm

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

  • sarah henry Feb 26, 2012, 9:16 pm

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

  • Attainable Sustainable Mar 1, 2012, 5:37 pm

    The rabbits might have to start sharing with you!

  • The Pocket Farmer Mar 1, 2012, 5:37 pm

    That looks delicious! Fantastic color!

  • Holly Morrison Mar 1, 2012, 5:37 pm

    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.

  • JoyceAvans Apr 29, 2012, 7:14 pm

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

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

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

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

    Just off to plant some radish!

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

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

  • Laura Jun 11, 2013, 8:52 am

    Brilliant!

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

    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! 

  • JB Mar 25, 2015, 3:42 pm

    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!

  • Ronnica, Striving Stewardess Mar 29, 2015, 7:48 pm

    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)!

  • Sandra Costanzo Apr 21, 2015, 2:31 pm

    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.

  • tessa May 13, 2015, 5:51 pm

    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?

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 7:34 pm

    Easy to make and super tasty!

  • Lemongrass Mar 14, 2019, 2:23 pm

    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.

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