It’s no secret I’m a fanatic about pesto. (I’m part Italian, so I kind of have to be, right?) I have a Basil-Sunflower Seed Pesto recipe in my new cookbook and countless more variations – from radish top to garlic scape and mint – here on the blog.
Pesto is a wondrous thing, for so many reasons. Children tend to love it, and you can disguise anything green inside (like kale, chard, and other nourishing greens and herbs). It can be used to dress pasta, spread on bread with cheese, season soups and tossed with roasted vegetables. And, it freezes beautifully, adding a mouthful of summer to any winter meal. I love pesto so much that I’ve probably had pesto pasta every other night for the past seven and a half months, while pregnant with baby number two. (Ok, maybe not thaaaat much, but almost.) This is because I’ve had a much harder time finding my creative juice in the kitchen, other than childhood comfort foods. Like pesto pasta.
One saving grace is that I’ve been working with an amazing Ayurvedic counselor, Sunny Rose Healey of Mamayurveda, who has been guiding me through prenatal nutrition and health. Ayurveda is an ancient system of Eastern medicine largely rooted in food and daily practices, which resonates so much with a philosophy I abide by: we are what we eat. Sunny’s support has been immensely helpful, because I simply haven’t had the same pregnant-glory-feels as I did while pregnant with Ayla. I’m chasing a toddler and working nearly full-time, and my body was also depleted after nursing Ayla for two years, with a short break before discovering we were pregnant again! So, I’ve had to find alternative ways of keeping my energy and immune system boosted while growing Ayla’s little sibling.
Sunny has been helping me find ways to create tri-doshic recipes, which are Ayurveda-friendly and geared for all three doshas. What is a dosha, you ask? A dosha is our body’s constitution. According to Ayurveda, we are all born with one of three doshas, or a combination of two: pitta, vata or kapha. Yet there are times in our life when our constitution changes, for example, when we’re pregnant. A tri-doshic recipe, however, will boost all three constitutions with healthy food combinations, like this pesto recipe which packs in radish greens, basil, healthy oils and fats, and nutritional yeast. You can always substitute the radish greens for any other greens like arugula, turnip tops, or kale, and treat them the same way in the recipe. It takes no time to whip up and will bring you a jarful of joy all season!
If you’re heading outside, pack this in a leak-proof jar and bring along fixings for a grazing board, like cheese, crackers, pickles and trail mix.
Ayla liked it so much she agreed to be my hand model for a good twenty shots before she started spooning the stuff straight into her mouth :).
Radish greens are an unprized gem, often seen as the unusable trimmings from their rosy red, spicy roots. But in fact, they offer a wealth of vitamins and antioxidants, and can be cooked like spinach, kale, and other familiar cooking greens, or incorporated into sauces and spreads like this spritely pesto. Spring radishes are my favorite, as they’re among the first vegetables to surface and usually appear when garlic scapes are harvested as well. The combination of the two in this recipe creates a rich, luxurious pesto that everyone will love. Toss with brown rice pasta, drizzle over grilled or roasted vegetables, or spread on bread for a sandwich.
- Greens from one bunch radishes, rinsed
- 5 cups loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed
- 3 garlic scapes, chopped into 1-inch pieces (substitute with 2 small garlic cloves)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup roasted walnuts
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Juice of 1 and ½ lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- In a small saucepan on the stovetop, add the radish greens with a splash of water and wilt gently over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender or food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and pulse until the greens are broken down. Slowly bring the speed up to a high whiz until the pesto is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a jar and drizzle olive oil over top to create a film. This will act as a seal and help preserve the pesto’s bright green color.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5 days until ready to use. Each time you remove some pesto, create a new olive oil film to preserve.
You can substitute radish greens for any other greens like arugula, turnip tops, or kale, and treat them the same way in the recipe.