28 November 2012

Radish Greens Pesto

Our fall garden is starting to take off, and we're already harvesting some tasty produce. When we pulled up our first radish globes last weekend, we wondered if we could use the greens for something other than composting. Sure enough, our internet search turned up suggestions in saut├ęs, soups, and spreads. We've always loved basil pesto, so we decided to give radish greens pesto a try.

They might be small, but these radishes and their full tops will both be used in our kitchen.

Here's what we used to make our very experimental radish greens pesto:

  • 2 large handfuls of radish greens, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted nuts (we used a combo of almonds and walnuts because we had them; pine nuts would be good, too)
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • wedge of Parmesan cheese
  • lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • juice from a whole lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How we made it:
Toasted awesomeness.
I toasted the almonds and walnuts in a large skillet on a medium-low heat until they started revealing their golden sides. I may or may not have over-toasted a few almonds, but it didn't really affect their flavor. Meanwhile, I pulverized the garlic cloves in our food processor with a little olive oil. 

What should I have done with the nuts after they were all pretty in their toastiness? Pounded them in a freezer bag with a meat tenderizer! I put them straight into my food processor to meet the garlic without pounding them first, and it caused quite a problem. Whole almonds got stuck to the blades and made it impossible to blend and process everything. I had to dump everything out, put them in a smaller blender in stages, remove the whole almonds from the first processor's blades, and then put everything back. Way more work than I wanted to do. *sigh*

OK, back on track. You have your nuts and garlic blended together, making sure you have just enough olive oil in there to keep everything smooth. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. How much cheese? This is up to you. We like our pesto a little on the salty side from the flavor of the cheese rather from actually adding salt, so we go heavy. Add only shredded Parmesan. Chunks don't process easily. Always add olive oil to keep the mixture slightly wet and oh-so-smooth.


Yep, that's a compost bucket alongside everything else. Organic waste gets made into next year's soil.

Finally, add the greens and blend everything until looks that pretty pea green (again, always adding olive oil as you go). Our blades got stuck again, so I had to transfer the pesto to our blender. Totally worked, in case you don't have a food processor. The pesto only needed a little salt and pepper to finish it. You finish it the way you see fit.
Pesto!
So somebody out there is reading this and thinking, "Really? Radish greens in your pesto? Sounds disgusting." I was skeptical, too, until we made it. The flavors from the lemon and Parmesan are not all that different from our basil pesto, but the radish greens give this pesto a very earthy taste. It has been the perfect spread to put on French loaf slices at dinner the last few nights. In fact, I'd probably pair it with bread or some kind of dinner roll over pasta because of its more earthy tang, but I can see it being used as a "sauce" on a white pizza. So for those of you who frequent the farmers' markets and buy radishes with the bright, plush greens on top, give this recipe a whirl. I'm sure you'll like it as much as we have.
Sorry it's out of focus--our toddler grabbed my picture-taking hand. :)



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