This Radish Greens Pesto Pasta recipe features pasta tossed with radish top pesto and roasted radishes. A great way to use the whole radish plant and reduce food waste! Keep this recipe in mind the next time you have an abundance of radishes from the farmer’s market or your CSA farm share!
This radish greens pesto combines two things I love — making pesto and using as much of the food we have on hand as possible.
I’ve found myself getting backed up in radishes that come from our local food share. So when a good size bunch of radishes with their green tops arrived the other day, I knew I needed to get going on using them.
Making a pesto with the radish tops proved to be a great way to use the greens. To make it a fully radish based entree, I roasted the radish bulbs and added them to the radish pesto pasta. It turned out to be a tasty combination!
Ingredients and variations
Here are the main ingredients for radish green pesto, along with some potential variations and substitutions.
Radishes and radish tops: Of course, the green top of the radish plant is a crucial ingredient for this pesto recipe.
We like to roast the radishes to toss with the pasta, but you could certainly just make the pesto and use the radish bulbs for something else.
Parmesan cheese is typically used for making pesto, and I call for it in this radish green pesto recipe. You can also use Pecorino Romano cheese if you like; I did so in the most recent batch I made.
Seeds: I like to use pumpkin seeds to make a nut-free pesto; but you can also use sunflower seeds for that purpose. Of course, you can go ahead and use pine nuts instead of the seeds if that’s your preference.
Extra virgin olive oil is essential for pesto!
Basil: I like to add a cup of basil in this recipe, but I have used other greens when I didn’t have basil on hand (see below).
Other greens: This recipe calls for 4 cups of radish greens. Some radish bunches yield more like 2 to 3 cups of the greens. You can just use what you have, or if you have some other greens on hand, you can add them.
For our most recent batch, we had about 3 cups of radish greens, and didn’t have basil either. With a bit of kale leftover from our Portuguese kale soup, I used a cup of kale plus a cup of carrot tops to add to the healthy greens in the recipe. It tasted great! (carrot tops bring a flavor a bit like parsley).
How to store radishes
When you get a bunch of radishes with the greens attached, the first thing you want to do is cut the greens off from the bulb.
You can use a knife to cut the greens, or sometimes I simply hold the bulbs in one hand and the greens in the other, and twist off the greens.
Store the greens in a plastic bag, unsealed, in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Don’t wash the greens until you are ready to use them. They will keep longer this way.
Store the radish bulbs in your refrigerator as well.
Storing the radish greens and bulbs like this will keep them fresh for at least 3 to 5 days. We made our radish green pesto 4 days after the radishes arrived at our doorstep.
Making radish green pesto
Here’s a visual overview showing you how to make radish green pesto; head down to the recipe card for all the details!
Start by cleaning the radishes with a vegetable cleaning brush. Then place the cleaned radishes on a cutting board.
Chop the radishes into bite size pieces.
We were using ziti for our pasta, we cut our radishes into long pieces that somewhat matched the shape of the ziti.
Place the chopped radishes in a baking dish.
Toss the radishes with 1 tablespoon of olive, then add salt and pepper.
Roast the radishes for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then remove from the oven to stir. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until they are tender.
Make the pesto as the radishes roast. You can also start boiling water for the pasta at this time.
Start making the pesto by pulsing the garlic cloves in a food process to mince them.
Add the radish greens to the food processor.
Pulse the food processor to begin chopping up the radishes. You will likely need to add them in two batches.
Add the olive oil to the food processor with the motor running. This will start turning the pesto into more of a puréed consistency.
Add the Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse to combine.
Add the pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts) if using, along with optional lemon juice, pulse to combine. If there are bits of greens on the side not incorporated into the pesto, open the food processor and scrape those pieces into the rest of the pesto. Pulse the processor again to finish the pesto.
Once the pesto is ready, set it aside.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain, and toss immediately with a few scoops of the radish leaf pesto. Stir in the roasted radishes. Plate the radish pesto pasta.
Pass additional pesto and Parmesan cheese at the table. Enjoy!
More ways to use the whole plant
If you like the idea of making good use of the radish top, here are a couple more recipes that use parts of the plant that are often tossed away:
This month, I am participating in the Wine Pairing Weekend blogging group’s exploration of “Slow Wines”. Check out my article “Exploring Slow Wine with Pairings” for more on that. This radish pesto pasta dish, featuring the entire radish plant from a local farm, seemed like a great fit for the theme.
My preferred pairing with the radish pesto pasta was the King Estate Pinot Gris ($14, 13.5% ABV) from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The nose of this Pinot Gris shows tart citrus fruit. On the palate, green apples and a bit of lemon.
If I were blind tasting this wine, I probably would have called it as a Sauvignon Blanc. An incorrect call, but Sauv Blanc is a good pesto pairing, so makes sense that this was the winning pairing! The acidity and lemon notes worked well with the bitterness of the greens and bite from the garlic.
More recently, I did pair the radish green pesto with a Sauvignon Blanc – the Jean-Marc Brocard Sauvignon Bris that has been a go-to white wine here of late. Excellent pairing!
I also tried this radish green pesto with the 2020 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc ($27, 13% ABV), from one of the producers that put Paso Robles on the map of great US wine regions.
The Patelin de Tablas has a floral nose — hibiscus, I would say. A complex flavor profile including Meyer lemon, stone, and a touch of honey and cinnamon. An interesting and enjoyable flavor profile. While it worked OK with our radish green pesto pasta, I would say I liked it even better sipped along with some nibbles of the good Parmigiano cheese I was using to make the pesto!
This white from Tablas Creek Vineyard is a white Rhone style blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 21% Viogner, 19% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne and 5% Clairette Blance, The grapes are sourced from some of Paso’s top vineyards for Rhone grapes.Print
Radish Green Pesto Pasta
This Radish Green Pesto Pasta recipe features pasta tossed with radish top pesto and roasted radishes. A great way to use the whole radish plant!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stove top + roasting
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
For the radish green pesto
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 cups radish greens, well rinsed (a bit less is OK – see notes)
- 1 cup basil
- ¾ extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
- 6 radishes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound short pasta shape, such as ziti
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the radish pieces in a baking dish with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast the radishes in the oven. After 20 minutes, take the radishes out, stir and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the radishes are soft and pierce easily with a fork. Set the radishes aside.
- Make the pesto as the radishes roast. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor, pulse to mince the garlic. Add the radish greens, pulse again to chop up the radish greens. Pour in the olive oil with the blade running. Now the pesto should be getting a good sauce like consistency. Open the food processor, stir, and then add the cheese and pumpkins seeds. Pulse to combine, and the pesto is ready to serve.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, toward the end of the radish roasting time. When cooked to your liking, drain the pasta and toss immediately with a couple scoops of the pesto. Stir in the roasted radishes.
- Plate the pasta, and pass additional radish pesto at the table along with some extra cheese. Enjoy!
- You might consider adding a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the recipe to balance the bitterness of the greens. I did so the 2nd time I made this recipe, and it did add a nice brightness to the dish.
- The 2nd time I made the recipe the radish tops I had yielded only 3 cups. The pesto was still flavorful, a bit more mild. So I would say anywhere from 3 to 4 cups of the greens is fine.
- I like to use pumpkin seeds for a nut free pesto. You could omit them, or try pine nuts or sunflower seeds if you like.
Keywords: radish leaf pesto, radish greens pesto, radish pesto, radish pesto pasta, how to use radish tops