Pesto is one of those wildly classical culinary gifts from the Mediterranean known the world over. At its Platonic base, pesto is composed of the freshest Legurian basil leaf, the most aromatic garlic, the purist virgin olive oil, the perfectly toasted pine nut, course sea salt, and the finest Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino sardo. It makes our mouths water just thinking about all that flavor. Each ingredient a flavor bomb on its own.
Like all classic sauces, pesto is an idea – open to endless possibility. A different choice in green, nut, cheese and even oil can dress up a piece of fish or roasted veggies, or maybe enrich a hot bowl of soup. The variability of pestos offers another vehicle for keeping those greens cycling through your refrigerator and into our food, rather than into the waste bin. In this version, we’ve taken the fresh, beautiful leaves from a bunch of radishes in place of basil. The resulting sauce was fresh and peppery, perfect tossed with whole wheat pasta or used in place of tomato sauce on homemade pizza.
Back in the day, cooks banged out a batch of pesto in a mortar. Today, our blenders make very quick work of building the sauce. Better yet, to save on cleanup and storage, we blend the pesto in a mason jar. The standard blender base fits a wide-mouthed mason jar. Once blended, you can use what you need and then store the unused portion in the jar. Whatever your flavors of choice, you can have a fresh bright sauce on the table in the time it takes to clean and prep the fresh ingredients.
Radish Greens Pesto
2 bunches radish greens, cleaned
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 oz grated parmigiana
2-3 large cloves garlic
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Add everything but the salt and pepper to a pint-sized mason jar, screw on the blade base of your blender and pulse to chop. Blend until incorporated, but not completely smooth. You want to see flecks of green and breaks in the oil emulsion. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.