Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lemon Laced, Radish Top Pesto

I am obsessed, captivated, completely infatuated, almost posessed by our garden.
"Eeeeeek...excited, excited....ha, yeah....pummpeddd!"

Call me batty, but 'round here I take on any number of names: "one proud mama of our garden babies" or "the grateful deadheader."

I dirty myself head to toe, so sometimes I go for the "all-thumbs-hands-arms-elbows-in-kinda-gardener." The "dirty fingernailer" works too.

It's this time of year when I get so caught up with our little seedlings who graduate from sprouting young-buds to hardy fruits.

One of our strawberry blossoms
 Our first berry born from the blossom above!
Enter my world of purples, yellows, oranges, reds!
Chive flowers


Leaf lettuce
These colors don't just bedazzle the garden, they're all edible too!

These plants almost mute Manerva's (our garden scarecrow's) dimming wardrobe. Her mellow colors continue to fade fast.

Understandably so.
Her work shift runs day and night, rain or snow, wind, hail. Invariably, she sets camp watching over our garden boxes.

Housed within her boxes are radishes!

Make Your Radish Grow!
You know these guys are ready by moving their perky leaves aside to see their rounded ruby-red cheeks push up just above the soil (about a quarter to a half inch high) like so....

Radish tops
I found that most people think younger radishes, about 1 inch in diameter, taste better. Any bigger, and you risk them cracking and drying out. They also leave a bitter aftertaste, giving off a tickle-your-nose pepper flavor (which I lean towards because I savor a good, kick-in-the-pants kind of spice). 

Eat all your radishes, and figure your favorite size!

These characteristics do, however, vary depending on your radish variety (Just look at all of them!).

Any more radish growing questions can be answered here. This site contains radish varieties, where and when they grow best, and the relative length of time to keep radishes in the ground (the back of your seed packet shares this information too).

Grow Your Radish & Eat (all of) It Too!
These bulby-radishes package healthy-for-you nutrients, a delightfully peppery bite, and crisp flavor.

 I'm drooling!

I do that occasionally, partially because I want to make these pink gems shine in luminous recipes.  Find 15 pages worth of them at this site which beckons the adventurous food-lover, like me. In this social media savvy age, I have to pull up the radish recipe Pinterest page. And don't forget to gawk at good ol', Martha Stewart 30+ recipe repertoire. 

But, I won't stop at the root.

 Let your eyes venture northward, above the radish...wayy past its pink, white hue....

...yes..tilt your head...up...a little higher..a-hah!

You're staring at those lucious greens. They contain a similar but milder, radish pepperiness.

If you know me, you know my "no good thing goes to waste" mentality.
So let's have at these leaves in a
lemon laced, radish top pesto.
This spread enlivens homemade lasagna, soups, pastas or rice, and salad dressings. You can slab it onto meat, eggs, or grilled veggies; mix pesto into your pizza sauce. Even coat it thick on your cornbread or within your sandwiches.

I like to snack on my smothered toast with low-fat cottage cheese, pesto, and radish root slices.

Recipe: Lemon Laced, Radish Top Pesto:
Serving: 8 ounce Jar of Pesto
Preparation time: 45 minutes

  • Small sauté pan
  • Tongs or a spatula to toss the sautéed food
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Food processor
  • Spatula
  • A jar or any storage container

  • 2-3 garlic cloves taken away from the whole garlic bulb. Discard any loose leaves but keep the smooth, inedible outer skin surrounding each individual clove (For an example, look to the picture on the right). This covering (at the base of the picture) will protect your garlic from burning during the sauté.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing the garlic
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite nut (I tried 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds and 1/8 cup of pine nuts)
  • 2-3 big bunches of radish leaves (probably close to 5-6 cups of the coarsely chopped leaves)
  • Zest from one lemon (about 1-2 tablespoon)
  • Juice from one lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • A mounding 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil (any oil will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. While that warms, place the garlic (in its thin skin) and the tablespoon of olive oil into a small, shallow pan over the stove. On medium heat, sauté it for about 8-10 minutes or until the garlic is browned and soft to the touch. As it cooks, move it around a good bit, so it doesn't burn. The finished garlic's insides should be squishy and mashable. 
  3. Once the oven has preheated, scoop the nuts onto a cookie sheet. Place them in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden. I kept a close eye on them, repetitively flipping and mixing.
  4. Squeeze the soft innards of the garlic from its outer cover into the food processor.
  5. The nuts will probably be done by now, so take them out of the oven for cooling.
  6. Pour the rest of the ingredients into the food processor, and let the blitzing begin. From time to time, you may need to stop and scrape the sides with your spatula.
  7. (Optional) Customize your pesto: you can also hold the 1/2 cup oil until you puree the rest of the ingredients. Add it in slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the texture that you like.
  8. (Optional) If you can't use all that pesto imediately, spoon it into icecube trays for the freezer. Once frozen, pop one out as you need it; or, to save room, pull all of the cubes from the tray into a freezer bag. Using a single icecube of pesto is much easier than chipping away at a bulky, frozen block of it.

If you don't share my hankering for pesto, move onto these simple radish top ideas:
  • Try them as a salad garnish, but beware of their rougher mouthfeel.
  • Sauté them with a little butter or your favorite spices. I mix mine with kale or chard, and I don't notice the prickly leaves' texture.
  • Radish green and potato soup seems like a fantastic idea. The recipe in this thread uses radish greens sautéed in a little butter, cubed potatoes, salt, pepper, chicken stalk, and a bit of light cream.
  • Some people even pickle them. 
  • Cut them into narrow strips to use as a filler in soups.
  • Cook them as you would spinach. You can even freeze them for later in an air-tight, freezer-ready container. 

Radishes. There's a certain charm to them?!


  1. Love your garden pics...I envy your immediate access to all those fresh veggies and strawberries..Oh my !! I guess Miss Minerva will need an umbrella for the next couple of days.

  2. You guys are so lucky to have the space to grow all your own vegetables. This radish top pesto sounds delicious.

  3. Absolutely fantastic colours and pictures. Your growing space is amazing, I hope to start growing again next year when I moved to a permanent home.