Radish-Leaf Pesto


Radishes from Melbourne University community garden

I am completely enamoured with finding ways to utilise plants or parts of plants that are usually seen as having no value. Lemon peels, radish tops, coriander roots.. and especially plants that people often view as ‘weeds’ such as dandelion, thistle, cleavers and chickweed. I even turn egg-shells into a natural cleaner!

Throwing away things that are perfectly fine to use feels wasteful – and I love the creativity and challenge of how to make use ‘offcuts’.

To me it just feels right to honour the whole plant that I am receiving life from.

Like a ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy of eating the whole animal but with plants instead of animals. I haven’t found a catchy vegetable version yet.  ‘Seed to root’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Let me know if you come up with something better!

radish-leaf-picMy winter radishes didn’t produce their red globes, so I pulled out the plants to clear the planter boxes. While they didn’t produce decent radishes, the leafy tops were really lush and abundant. I wondered if I could perhaps utilise the green leaves – maybe sauté them with garlic or make pesto. I went home to check some sources to see if they are edible and sure enough they are. Pesto won.


This is my version of pesto without cheese but you can adjust as you like, or substitute the radish leaves for basil in other recipes.


Radish-Leaf Pesto (vegan-friendly)

2 handfuls of green radish leaves (remove larger stems first)

½ cup of cashews

1-2 cloves of garlic

Juice or zest of half a lemon

Salt to taste

Splashes of olive oil

Blend in food processor to the consistency you prefer. I like mine rustically coarse but if you like it fluffier, blend until smooth with a few splashes of water.

For my next pesto experiment I am eyeing off the thistles and chickweed..

What other greens do you like to substitute for basil in pesto?


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