Radish Pesto

I like pasta – a lot. Before really learning about macrobiotics and holistic nutrition, I think macaroni and cheese (not the Kraft kind, however) was one of my favourite comfort foods. So, I had to figure out something that would be healthy for my body but still delicious, comforting, and satisfying. I think the best thing about this recipe is how fast it is to make!

Pesto is generally made from basil leaves, pine nuts, and olive oil. Some people add a lot of garlic, some people add lemon or spices, some people add cheese. This recipe calls for nothing more than the green leaves you find on your radish bunch, some olive oil, and a nice handful of almonds. I never felt right about coming home with a beautiful bunch of radishes only to cut the greens off and toss them out. I thought to myself that there had to be something you could do with them. Are they edible? Probably…

An interesting concept in macrobiotics is that of eating the whole plant, in its entirety – root to tip. I realized I had been throwing out parts of the plant that make amazing food my whole life. Why not eat the greens? Why not eat the roots? It was really strange to me at first, but I caught on quickly.

I serve this pesto sauce over soba noodles (buckwheat) and with a side of pressed and gently pickled radishes – the bottoms to the tops used in the sauce – both to bring the whole energy of the radish plant into our meal, and also to add a fresh pop to the palate. Garnish with some sesame seeds, and it was delightful!

Ingredients:
– 1 bunch radishes, greens only (about 2 cups, packed), washed
– 1/2 cup almonds, rinsed
– 2-3 tbsp oil
– pinch salt

In a food processor, chop the almonds until it forms a lumpy meal. Add the radish greens, salt, and half of the oil. Continue to chop the mixture, slowly adding the remaining oil to the mixture as it chops.

If you want to be really holistic about the process and not use the food processor, chop the nuts by hand until it forms a lumpy meal. Then chop the radish greens into the almond meal. Transfer the mixture to a mortar or suribachi, add the oil and salt, and manually pound the mixture with the pestle or surikogi.

Toss sauce over hot, fresh noodles. If the sauce is too thick, try diluting it with some water (the water used to cook the pasta is perfect – only one tablespoon at a time). Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Enjoy!

This recipe makes enough sauce for 3-4 servings of pasta.

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