Radishes have the benefit of being easy to eat and super yummy. You can literally just rinse them, chop off the greens and eat them raw. They’re like natures bite sized snack.
Which is why when I heard that Live Free Farm had an abundance of radishes to sell, I hopped in my Jeep and jetted over to Exeter. Maddie’s mom was just cleaning up the farm store, so Maddie took me out back to the refrigerator and pulled out a basket of cute little radishes.
I left the farm laden with three bunches of radishes, half a pound of arugula, and half a pound of mixed greens. Maddie had shown me in their greenhouse where the greens had just gotten a ‘haircut’. I ate almost all the radishes on the car ride home, with a few handfuls of spinach thrown in for good measure.
It struck me when I got home that not only was I pretty much out of radishes, I had about half a pound of radish greens leftover. I knew that I would feel disappointed in myself if I just threw them out, but I’d never made anything with those greens before. After a little nibble I decided that a simple salad probably wouldn’t work – the greens were kind of prickly and about ten times as peppery as the radish roots – they reminded me of hairy arugula.
I’ve made arugula pesto before, so suddenly radish green pesto seemed like an obvious choice. However, I had a feeling that the radish greens might be a little overpowering, and since I had some mild arugula on hand I ended up cutting the radish bite with those.
If you don’t have arugula, don’t worry about it, just use radish greens – or you can substitute some basil to make the pesto a little more traditional. I liked having walnuts or pine nuts to counterbalance the spicy greens. I opted for a sheep’s milk Pecorino Romano made by Locatelli because in my experience sheep cheese is a little bit sweeter and milder. I tend to use a slightly nicer olive oil for pestos because the oil is such an important part of the flavor.
Radish Green and Arugula Pesto
¾ lb Radish Greens
4 Cloves Garlic
About ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Finely Grated Romano (I tend to use sheep’s cheese in this recipe because it seems to have a sweeter flavor but you can substitute regular cows milk Parmesan or Romano cheese)
½ Cup Crushed Walnuts or Whole Pine Nuts (optional)
Food Processor (We’re in the process of moving, so I have a tiny one.)
A Mixing Bowl
- Coarsely chop the garlic and throw it into the food processor. Give it a few good pulses until the garlic is minced.
Add the radish greens and half of the olive oil. Pulse until everything is nicely chopped and mixed. Add in the arugula and the rest of the oil. Pulse for about 20 seconds. If you are only using radish greens put in half at a time.
- Use the spatula to get any bigger chunks of greens and garlic down from the sides of the food processor. Add the grated cheese in and give the pesto a few more pulses. The final product should be coarse but not chunky or leafy.
- Scrape the almost finished pesto into a small mixing bowl. This is the time to fold in your crushed nuts.
- Serve the pesto! It should keep well tightly covered in the refrigerator for a few days, but I like it fresh and a little warm from being blended.
I served my pesto with some homemade wheat pasta, but if you’re not feeling that ambitious Terra Cotta makes a really great array of fresh and frozen pastas that are sold in small grocery stores all over the Seacoast. Pesto is also really great on toasted bread with a little cheese, or as a dip thinned with some added olive oil. I’ve even seen it put in Greek Dressing to enhance the flavor. The possibilities with pesto are endless.