12 June 2010

Radish-leaf pesto pizza

I know I've mentioned radish-leaf pesto before, but I don't think I've ever posted pictures or any recipes for it. It's radish season here in Saint-Aignan, and we are both growing and buying bunches of the elongated, red-and-white French radishes every week now.

The radishes themselves are good eaten raw with a little bit of salt and some good buttered bread. One bunch will give us several servings, and we eat them as an appetizer before the main course at lunch. Unsalted butter is essential. French radishes are tasty but fairly mild in flavor.

Radish-leaf pesto, recipe below

This time of year, when beautiful bunches of radishes are sold at the outdoor markets, the radish greens are beautiful too. They are bright green, unblemished, and appetizing. We've discovered that we can cook them like spinach and eat them as a side dish, or use them in pureed soups. You can also eat them raw, either added to other salad greens or made, for example, into pesto, in the place of the standard basil leaves.

Pizza topped with pesto, thin slices of sausage,
and mozzarella cheese

That's what we did the other day, using radish tops from a bunch we bought at the market and some from the garden too. Here's the recipe we use:
Radish-leaf pesto

2 large handfuls of fresh, washed radish leaves
1 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 oz. pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
1 Tbsp. of butter, softened
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or more)
salt and pepper

Wash the radish leaves thoroughly in a couple of waters. They are often very sandy. Break off the larger stems and keep only tender stems and bright green leaves. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process in pulses until smooth. Scrape down the sides as you puree the pesto so that all the ingredients are well mixed. Add more oil if you want a thinner consistency.

Serve with pasta, on pizza, or as a sandwich spread with slices of chicken or meat.
For the pizza Walt made, he spread on the pesto and topped it with thin slices of cooked saucisse de Toulouse. That's a pure pork sausage in which the filling is made of lean and fat pork chopped, according to the classic recipe, by hand with a big knife, and not run through a food grinder. The Toulouse sausage that Mme Doudouille is selling right now at the Saint-Aignan market on Saturdays is just excellent.

This was the best pizza I'd had in a long time.

The pesto has parmesan cheese in it, but pizza calls for even more cheese. So we added some mozzarella, as you can see in the picture below. When you serve the pizza, there's no real need to put olive oil on the table to drizzle over it, because the pesto itself contains enough oil.

And it was simple to make, if you have the pesto.
The classic basil pesto would be good too, of course.

I can't overstate how good this pizza was. Luckily we have another batch of radish-leaf pesto in the refrigerator. I'm off to the market in Saint-Aignan this morning to get, among other things, some more of that Toulouse sausage from Chez Doudouille's stand.


  1. Hi Ken, I remember having some of that lovely pesto with pasta when we came to see you last year. It was delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe, I'm certainly going to try it. Martine
    P.S. Word verfication is 'Caili' - sounds a bit like Callie, doesn't it?

  2. This all looks great; the pesto and the pizza. I make traditional pesto all the time, but have thrown out radish leaves when they come with the radishes. I'll have to change that. And by the way, there's a great way to serve radishes - braised with a butter/olive oil sauce over toasted bread rounds. Here's the recipe from the NY Times:

  3. On May 21, I checked out this blog where Ann posted a "potage aux feuilles de radis" http://adventuresintoulouse.blogspot.com/
    That pizza looks really delicious.
    I always smile when you mention Mme Doudouille. Is it her real name? I know "douillette" means comfy in french.

  4. I was checking out "a taste of garlic" and realized that there are only 4 blogs from "le Centre" and I read you all (you, Walt, Jene and Susan/Simon). Nobody in La Nievre. I recommended your blog to Mireille http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/
    She lives in Gorgia but is originally from France.

  5. I'm not sure I've ever seen a radish leaf. I'll have to pay more attention next time I'm in the market.

  6. Speaking of pestos, roquette also make a wonderful pesto.
    And speaking of greens, we've been getting lots of turnips from our AMAP (for you non-French residents, that's an association to buy fresh produce directly from the a local farmer) and I've been making "velouté de fanes de navets", which is good. We've also been getting lots of chard, but you're an expert with whard, so I've been getting my recipes from you.

  7. Ellen, I love turnip greens but I never see them here. I mentioned eating turnip and beet greens to an 80-yr.-old friend here, but she looked very skeptical.

    I think you can make pestos with all kinds of greens. I guess I should try it with tender chard leaves when we get some in a few weeks.

  8. Thanks SO much for solving the radish leaf mystery. Americans a bit shy about trying. Not me. I've done the soup/stew thing, but usually when radishes are at best, it's not stew season! Chard should be great! Lots of heirloom chard, if you want to call it that, in our marches now. And again, thanks for celebrating Cantal (I reviewed some past stuff).

  9. Hi Eleanor, have you ever read my series on the Cantal cheese-making process? Cantal is one of the best and oldest French cheeses. It's also a beautiful area, green and hilly.


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