One of the sure signs of summer at our house is when a batch of fresh pesto and a straight-from-the-oven crusty baguette constitutes an acceptable substitute for a complete meal. Forget the perfectly grilled steak or the sweet corn (or maybe don’t forget them as much as save them for another night and smother them with the leftover pesto). This is the kind of no fuss cooking that is perfect for summer evenings.
As the first radishes have started to come out of the garden, I’ve been looking for something to do with the greens. Radish greens are edible and super nutritious, so it feels like a waste to just throw them in the compost bin, but usually the recipes you’ll see call for cooking them. I am not a cooked greens kind of girl. No matter how much I tell myself they’re good (and good for me), I just can’t get on board (it’s a texture thing). I much prefer my greens in their uncooked form. Enter the inspiration to try them in a pesto.
Pesto is one of those things that is completely versatile. Don’t have fresh basil on hand? Try pea shoots, kale, or even broccoli (yes, these are all on my list to try this summer!). You can add any kind of nut and fresh herbs that will complement the flavors, throw in some garlic, olive oil, and hard cheese, and you’ve got something truly delicious that requires little more skill than knowing how to operate a food processor.
The radish greens make a very pleasant tasting pesto! They are not particularly bitter; a better description would be to say that they are slightly peppery. Be sure to use very fresh, unblemished greens. Right from the garden is best, but if that’s not an option and you do need to store them for short time before making the pesto, soaking the greens in cold water for 30 to 60 minutes before storing in the refrigerator will help with the crispness.
Go ahead, make a batch, grab some bread, and call it dinner. I won’t judge.
Radish Leaf Pesto
1 cup fresh radish leaves, packed
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil (add more for a smoother pesto)
salt and pepper (optional)
Wash radish leaves, remove stems, and pat dry with a clean towel. In a food processor, pulse the garlic and almonds a few times until minced. Add radish leaves and cheese and pulse a few times to break down the leaves. With the food processor running, add the olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, according to taste