Ravishing Radishes herald Spring and I have long ignored their siren call. But seeing them in such abundance at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market this week tempted me to grab 10 bunches, which at $1 a bunch is very very friendly.
In a house of pickle lovers, the beautiful glass mason jar was the fate for all the red hearts. After which I was left with endless bright green peppery leaves, far too many to go straight to the compost bin. One bite and I knew it could only be pesto.
I have a long-standing love affair with Pesto or what I more often call “The Green Stuff”. I first encountered pesto when I was 16 at a small family Italian restaurant I used to frequent with my favorite girl friend. One night we ended up there with 15 minutes till close. Under the time crunch I ordered a scavengers meal; “Green Stuff”, bread and sorbet. My slight Filipina friend ordered a kings feast: a full pizza pie, large salad and a cannoli. She folded the pizza into fourths, topped with salad, smothered with pesto and devoured. The cannoli was than smashed onto her fingers “to go” and the check was paid with 2 mins to spare. It was magic, she is an unsung food eating champion. I remember that night fondly every time I eat “Green Stuff”. Radish Pesto has all the green olive oil goodness of traditional pesto, but with an added pepper bite that takes my pesto addiction to a whole new level.
Radish Greens Pesto
What you need:
4 large handfuls of radish greens, discarding all yellowed or damaged leaves and rinsing throughly
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 strips Meyer lemon peel, can use eureka lemon but draw back a strip
25 g pistachio + 25 g pine nuts or 50 g of pistachio/pine nuts
60 g shredded parmesan
5 Tbs olive oil
2 sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
What you need to do:
Place everything in food processor and pulse till everything comes to a uniform texture. I leave mine a little crunchy because I like nuts. Alternatively, with a rainy day you could chop everything finely and work out your biceps with a mortar and pestle. Taste! Add more salt or pepper if needed to taste. Makes 4 8oz jars or 2 pint jars. Place any you won’t use right away in freezer, careful to leave 1/2 inch head space room as pesto will expand as it freezes.
Note: This yields a very thick pesto, great for spreading on pizza dough
as is or thin as needed with oil olive for pasta, etc. Can also be made with carrot top greens and hazelnuts.
BONUS Recipe: Clemence Gosset, a good friend and owner of the Gourmandise School shared my recipe for Radish Pesto yesterday! She also shared her friend Chef Christianne Winthrop recipe for Lemon Walnut Pesto. I can’t wait to try it!!!!
Chris’s Lemon Walnut Pesto
Chef Chris teaches many of the Gourmandise School’s incredible savory course
3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 -1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
juice and zest of one lemon
3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese, zest and juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil, starting with 3/4 of a cup and working up to a whole cup if a looser pesto is desired.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.