The radish leaves this week at my CSA pick-up were starting to look a little haggard. Not yellow yet, and still crisp, but a bit bug-eaten. I suppose that’s the tradeoff for vegetables utterly free of any nasty pesticides. Perforated or not, radish greens can be put to good use in the kitchen. Instead of tossing them directly into the compost bin, combine them with a bit of cheese and nuts and you’ve got yourself a spicy, herbaceous pesto perfect for spreading on toasted bread (top it with a fried egg at breakfast) or slathering over pasta or pizza.
Just be sure your radish leaves are clean — a trip through the salad spinner should do the trick — and you might want to trim any particularly large stems. Usually I separate the leaves from the radishes as soon as I get them home, and make the pesto immediately. That way, the leaves don’t languish in the fridge for too long.
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Radish Top Pesto Recipe
You could also use the leaves of small white turnips, or supplement the garlic with garlic chives, garlic scapes, ramps, or young green onions. Essentially, you’re working with an ounce of cheese and an ounce of nuts to a few handfuls of greens — experiment!
- A few handfuls of radish leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 oz (30 grams) aged, salty cheese, like pecorino romano, parmesan, grated
- 1 oz (30 grams) pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- lemon zest to taste
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth, drizzling in olive oil to get the consistency you like. Taste for salt and pepper. Freeze in small packets, or store in the fridge for a week or so, with a layer of olive oil over the top.