courgettes with radish leaf pesto

well, there you go. who would have thought it? radish leaf? to eat?? raw???

then again, why not? lots of leaves are edible, so why not this one?

well, because it looks a bit like weed - the leaves are dull green and slightly hairy. it wouldn't be my first choice for foraging if i were lost in a forest.

but in the spirit of my new-found frugality (and greed), i am finding it deeply satisfying not wasting food and using every part of a plant or animal in an ingenious way. i also seem to be obsessed by making pesto sauce. i never knew about the radish thing until i stumbled upon this recipe on the chocolate and zucchini site ( sod's law being what it is, this moment of revelation came literally on the afternoon of a morning when i chucked out loads of radish leaves from a bunch bought at the farmers' market. i then forgot about it, as is often the case with these things, until a bunch of radishes practically leaped at me out of the fridge yesterday. unusually for a supermarket, they came with leaves (it was a posh supermarket and the radishes were those nice long french ones which are very slightly hot - if i still ate bread, i'd eat these thinly sliced on some very fresh baguette and lots of good butter with salt). 

for some reason, i liked the idea of combining radishes and courgettes with hazelnuts so this is what i used. the slightly scary leaves came out as a bright green paste with a real grassy, earthy kick - don't really know how to describe it except it's a lot less perfumed than the usual basil pesto, and tastes like how you imagine the colour green would. it was lovely - so lovely that i had to save some for my packed lunch today. in fact, i think i preferred it to the wild garlic version i made the other day.


1 handful of radish leaves (discard the dodgy looking ones), washed and dried in a salad spinner or a teatowel
15g nuts - i used hazelnuts but you can use almonds, pine nuts, etc. walnuts may be too bitter
15g parmesan or pecorino cheese
2tbs olive oil
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
whizz it all in a food processor - you might have to scrape down the sides once or twice. thin to a desired consistency.

to make the courgette thing, gently fry a couple of shallots in some olive oil, then add 3-4 grated courgettes and fry until they're cooked but with a little bit of crunch left. stir in the pesto, check for seasoning, sprinkle with some chilli flakes and some crushed toasted hazelnuts, and serve. 

a great accompaniment to a roast chicken, as you can see from the pic. 


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