Last weekend I visited a local farm stand. It was the first time it had been open all year, a little early thanks to an unusually warm spring. The stars of the show were unquestionably the strawberries, freshly-picked, cheerful, and two weeks ahead of schedule. But lurking at the back of the stand was one of the less-lauded of the spring arrivals: the radishes, tied into neat bunches, their colour rivaling the strawberries’.
I grabbed a bunch—after claiming my quart of strawberries. Much as I love radishes, I know where my ultimate loyalties lie.
Every time I buy radishes, I resolve to use the greens, and every time, I leave them a few days too long and they end up in the compost. Not this time! These leaves were so green and perky, though admittedly a little bug-nibbled, that I was determined not to let them go to waste.
The result: pesto, that endlessly flexible concoction of greens, nuts, cheese, oil. Radish greens are far less pungent than basil, but have a slight pepperiness to them. They’re milder than arugula this time of year, but grow sharper as the days get warmer.
Radish Leaf and Walnut Pesto
- 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/4 C walnuts
- 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
- leaves of one bunch of radishes, washed and well-dried, with the longest stems removed
- 1/4 C olive oil
You can make this either with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. With your instrument of choice, smush together the garlic, walnuts, and parmesan. Add in the radish leaves—you’ll want to pre-chop them if you’re using a mortar and pestle. Very slowly mix in the olive oil.
That’s it! Serve on pasta or pizza, or as a sandwich spread or vegetable dip.
Makes ~1/2 C.