Radish tops – have you ever eaten them?
Up until recently, it never occurred to me that you could. After all, when you visit the grocery and buy a typical bunch of radishes, the green tops are usually wilted and past their prime, and really, they don’t look the least bit appetizing. I just assumed they were something you threw away.
Once I started purchasing radishes from the farmer’s market, however, one of the farmers mentioned to me that the tops were delicious as well. Eat the tops?, I thought. What a novel concept. I sautéed them once or twice after then, but never really thought them anything special. I’d eat them, sure, but if I was to choose between them and another leafy green, chances are I’d choose arugula, kale, or chard over radish tops. But this weekend, I was faced with a huge bunch of radish tops after harvesting radishes from our garden. (A side note: If you are new to gardening, I suggest planting radishes. They’re easy, and they go from seed to harvest in what seems like record time. These took a little over a month.) They were better-looking radish tops than even most I’ve seen, even at the farmer’s markets. I’m not trying to brag on my gardening skills, which are far from spectacular; it’s just that they were perfectly green, healthy-looking, with no blemishes to speak of. I felt I really needed to highlight them, not just throw them in a skillet and sauté. So, I put a shout-out on Instagram and Twitter. After I received the suggestion from Ali at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen to throw it in smoothies, I made plans to add a good amount into my green juices. But I still had plenty left.
And then, like magic, it came to me. Why not make pesto? I’ve seen basil pesto (and have even made some), arugula pesto, and even kale pesto. Radish tops could be made into pesto too! The next thing I knew, the food processor was out and in a matter of minutes, this pesto was born.
This little condiment is a bit milder than a basil or arugula pesto – there isn’t that overly herbal or peppery bite to it. Instead, it adds a lovely freshness to anything it graces. It would be delicious in a sandwich, in a chicken salad, on top of eggs, in potato salad, on a burger, or as a dip for raw veggies. I could keep going. Basically, I think pesto could be added to everything. Because, well, why not?
If you happen upon some lovely radish tops this spring, don’t just toss them – give this pesto a try!
Radish Top Pesto with Walnuts and Hemp (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)
4 cups radish tops/greens, packed
1/4 c walnuts, toasted in a skillet
1/4 c hemp seeds/hemp hearts
1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
1 T green garlic (young garlic – 1-2 cloves of regular garlic can be substituted), roughly chopped
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
Place radish tops, walnuts, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the leaves are broken down. With the processor going, drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until everything is pretty smooth and no large chunks remain. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Makes about 2/3 cup. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for about a week.