Don’t throw out your radish leaves! Use them to make this flavorful and nutrient-dense Radish Top Pesto instead. This no waste recipe is a great way to use all parts of the vegetable.
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Do you tend to cut off the tops of radishes and just use the root? What about beets? Carrots?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s not common knowledge that the leaves of most vegetables are edible. And even if it is, most people don’t know what to do with the greens anyway! I used to feel the same way.
I’ve made it a goal over the past year to experiment with more recipes that use the parts of vegetables that don’t get enough attention. Not only does this reduce food waste, but it also inspires more creativity in the kitchen.
Plus, some of the things we tend to throw out when we cook with vegetables–greens, stems, etc–are crazy nutritious. In fact, they are sometimes more nutrient-dense than other parts of the veggie.
One of the easiest ways to use stems, stalks, leaves, etc. is to turn them into dips or condiments, like I did in this radish top pesto recipe.
It’s super green, nutty, salty, and downright delicious. Pesto goes great with so many things, and it can last for a loooong time. But before we get into the recipe, I rounded up some FAQ about radish leaves.
Are radish leaves edible?
Radish leaves are safe to eat. They have a slightly bitter, but delicious, taste. And if you pair them with the right flavors, they are an amazing addition to recipes.
You can eat radish greens raw in salads or cook them in a skillet with some olive oil and seasonings. But be sure to give radish top pesto a try first!
Radish Greens Nutrition
Radish greens are highly nutritious. They contain more vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium than radish roots, and may be higher in antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds (1).
Studies show that extract of radish leaves may exhibit anti-cancer effects and protect against diabetes in test tubes (2, 3).
How to Clean Radish Greens
In my experience, radish leaves can be pretty darn dirty. So before you use them in this radish top pesto, you should give them a thorough cleaning by following these steps.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water.
- Dunk the greens into the bowl and swish around the water so that you dislodge the dirt that’s stuck between the leaves.
- Empty the bowl and repeat, then dry the leaves in between paper towels.
How to Make Pesto with Radish Leaves
Combine the clean radish leaves with sunflower seeds, lemon juice, garlic, and grated parmesan cheese in a food processor or high-powered blender.
Drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running, and blend/pulse until smooth! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer.
Ways to Use Radish Top Pesto
Add this flavorful pesto to pasta, pizza (like my Asparagus and Mushroom Naan Bread Pizza), quesadillas (like my Pesto Quesadillas), eggs, rice, and sandwiches, or use it as a dip for raw veggies. However you use it, I’d love to hear. For another pesto variation, check out the Mint Basil Pesto.
Other Zero Waste Recipes
- Swiss Chard Stem and Beet Tahini Dip
- No Waste Broccoli Salad with Peanut Dressing
- Quick Pickled Radishes with Sherry Vinegar
- Pickled Red Cabbage
- Quick Pickled Red Onions
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Radish Top Pesto
- 1 bunch radish leaves - cleaned and roughly chopped
- ½ cup sunflower seeds - raw or dry roasted
- ½ lemon - juiced
- 1 clove garlic - minced or pressed
- ½ cup parmesan cheese - freshly grated
- ⅓ cup olive oil - more as needed
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and swish the radish leaves in it to dislodge any dirt stuck between the leaves. Empty the bowl, repeat the process, and dry the clean leaves between paper towels.
- Combine the radish leaves, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, garlic, and parmesan in a food processor or high-powered blender. Drizzle in the olive oil while you pulse/blend the pesto until smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Add more olive oil if needed.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Add to pasta, pizza, eggs, and more, or use as a dip for veggies.
- This will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Possible substitutions include pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or cashews for the sunflower seeds. You can also use beet greens for this recipe.
Enjoy your pesto! – Lizzie
This recipe was originally published in June 2019. It was updated in April 2020.
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