Homemade: Black Radish Leaf Pesto

When Tony walks in on my cooking and says, “I’m not eating that,” I pretty much know I’ve left my comfort zone in the kitchen.

Such was the scenario Sunday evening as I tore my way through a mound of radish leaves from the spooky looking black radishes pictured above. I bought two bunches Saturday from Delta Sol Farm at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. I couldn’t resist trying a black food or Brandon’s enthusiasm. Brandon grew the radishes and was quite proud.

Called gros noir d’Hiver in France, where the radishes originated in the mid 1500s, black radishes have a finely grooved black skin, but the peppery flesh inside is pure white. I’m hoping to pickle the radishes (more on that later), but I decided to make pesto first while the leaves were fresh.

Be forewarned: Radish leaves are a little prickly. I tried cutting out the tough spines with a knife, but that was taking forever, so I just pulled the leaves off with my fingers. It is a much faster method.

After checking out recipes online, I went with the following combination. Next time, I’ll increase the basil. Either way, the pesto is a peppery change from more typical varieties, and I think it will make a nice topping for pizza or the two bags of yellow squash patiently waiting in my refrigerator.

Black Leaf Radish Pesto

2 cups radish leaves, tightly packed
One-half cup chocolate basil
4 large garlic cloves
One-half cup toasted pine nuts
One-quarter teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon white pepper
One-half cup olive oil
One-half cup freshly grated Parmesan

Clean radish leaves and basil and set aside. Toast pine nuts.

Puree garlic, radish leaves, basil, and pine nuts in food processor. Add salt and pepper and pulse a few more times.

Drizzle in olive oil and puree until blended. Stir in cheese.

Store in the refrigerator or freeze in cubes for later use.

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