Have you ever harvested radishes out of your garden and felt bad about wasting the extra greens? Ever wondered if you can eat radish leaves? After all, you have no doubt lovingly tended your garden to produce a harvest of delicious radishes and it would be amazing to use the entire plant. So let’s find out if you can eat radish greens and if so, how to eat them to make the most of your garden harvest.
Radish greens look, at first glance, like the top of many other plants. The leaves of radishes gather up all the energy the plant needs from the sun to grow the radish which forms under the soil surface. And that’s the end of the story… or is it?
In recent years, people have become much more conscious of the waste they produce on a day-to-day basis. This is definitely commendable, but it may have left you with some greens that you’re unsure are edible. And if they are edible, just how to cook and eat them.
Can you Eat Leaves of Radish?
The good news is that you can eat radish greens. In fact, I’d suggest you definitely do! They’re an acquired taste, but a lovely one nonetheless.
The leaves of all radishes are completely edible, although some may have a slightly fuzzy texture that people may dislike. However, upon cooking them, you remove that fuzzy feeling!
Making full use of your radish plant is known as root-to-leaf eating and really helps to make full use of your vegetable garden.
By the way, if you are growing radishes in your vegetable garden, you can harvest some of the leaves as the radish grows. Just be sure to leave the majority of the leaves until you are ready to harvest the whole plant. Otherwise, the radish won’t be able to take in essential sunlight and nutrients required to grow a healthy edible radish.
You can read more on growing radishes in our article How to Grow Radishes: the Easiest Vegetable to Grow.
If you have a particularly bushy radish plant then harvesting a few leaves from each radish is perfectly fine! Use scissors or garden clippers to gently remove a few of the outer leaves to eat now while leaving the rest of the leaves to grow the radish to maturity. At which time you can also eat the rest of the radish greens.
Can you Eat Radish Greens Raw?
The way to cook and prepare your radish greens depends on how old they are. Because radishes are an exceptionally fast-growing crop, the greens can be very tender when young. So young radish leaves make an excellent addition to a salad and can be eaten raw.
If you’re buying or growing radishes that are slightly older than the typical 30-day growth period, however, you may have to cook the greens. Typically, older greens might be a little less perky and have a couple of yellow spots, but they’ll still smell fresh and taste great. As a rule of thumb, older greens will be more bitter than younger greens. To make them palatable, they can be cooked.
How To Eat Radish Leaves
Sautéed Radish Greens
By cooking the radish greens, you will be making the bitter flavor of mature leaves softer. And by adding complementary flavors of creamy parmesan cheese along with the tang of lemon juice, the strong taste of the radish leaves will be mellowed and delicious.
To sauté radish greens, start by washing the leaves well. Next, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Then simply add the radish leaves to the pan and sauté until gently wilted through. This process is quick and should only take 2-3 minutes. Finish with a generous grating of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Combine and season to taste with salt and pepper and you have a wonderful side dish of radish greens.
This dish can be adjusted to include other garden greens such as swiss chard, spinach and beetroot leaves. And you can also add a wonderful earthy note with the addition of some thinly chopped garlic. A deliciously simple side dish that makes use of your radish greens!
Radish Greens Pesto
Another way to use your radish greens is by turning them into a pesto.
Making radish greens pesto is extremely easy, simply use half basil and half radish greens instead of solely basil leaves in the mixture. This substitution will, of course, make use of something that you might otherwise throw away, but it will also introduce a new and interesting flavor to pesto.
To make a basic pesto using radish leaves, it’s a pretty simple recipe. Start by adding half a cup of pine nuts to a food processor, along with a garlic clove and some salt and pepper. Give the mixture a few pulses to make sure everything’s chopped. Then, add in two tablespoons of lemon juice and equal parts radish greens and basil – a good amount is a cup of each. Pulse again until everything’s combined. Finally, add in a quarter of a cup of olive oil, and the same amount of parmesan cheese. Pulse everything a final time until there are no dry ingredients left and it’s all a consistent texture.
Radishes, when raw, have a gentle peppery flavor which can be accentuated by mixing them with aromatic herbs. That’s precisely what we’re doing here, so the pepper flavor in radish greens can be elevated by the other ingredients in the pesto.
The secret to making a powerful pesto is to not be shy with the olive oil that you’re using. High-quality olive oil will ensure the pesto has the ideal texture to be spread or dipped into, and the subtle nuttiness will also give good pesto a wonderfully authentic flavor.
Other Ideas to Eat Radish Greens
- Radish leaves can also be used in a stir fry as you would any other leafy green vegetable.
- At the end of roasting radishes or any other vegetable in the oven, add the greens for the final 5-10 minutes or until they crisp up.
- Use newly spouted radish leaves, otherwise known as microgreens, to garnish a plate or top of a dish or include the tender leaves in a salad.
So, to sum up, radish greens are certainly edible and can be incorporated into any number of dishes. Mature radish greens can be made more palatable through gentle cooking and balanced with a few delicious ingredients. So next time you have a bunch of radishes with a healthy crop of greens, don’t throw the greens out, instead, try one of these ideas and eat them – you won’t be disappointed!
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