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Following the brilliance of Fergus Henderson and his St John’s Restaurant, nose-to-tail eating has gotten chefs to reconsider and even be excited about ears and trotters and cuts that have previously been discarded.
It just makes a lot more sense for the environment and your own pocket, to fully use and appreciate all that has been sacrificed to feed your stomach. I think we need to apply this to vegetables too, a sort-of “shoot-to-root” or “top- to-toe” eating. It pains me to see people pluck the tops off beetroots, or the outer leaves off cauliflower, when the whole plant is perfectly good to eat.
I’ve used the radish here as an example, its blushing pink roots are much-loved in spring, but its leaves are actually just as delicious, with a nice mustardy bite not unlike rocket or watercress.
It’s nonsense that people are willing to pay for those little leaves in their salads when you can get equally tasty ones free. I’ve moved away from the usual raw salads here though. Many don’t realise this, but radishes are great cooked! I don’t mean mushy, tasteless, over-boiled radishes; pan-seared ones still retain a slight refreshing crunch. At the same time, their sharpness mellows, and their light sweetness comes through, a great contrast to the salty peppery pesto.
I’ve given a slight Asian twist to this vegan-friendly pesto, using miso instead of Parmesan for a savoury depth.
Seared radishes with radish leaf miso pesto
- 1 large bunch of whole radishes
- 1 small handful of toasted pine nuts or almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp naturally fermented white miso
- Generous pinch of unrefined sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon
- Prepare the radishes, separate tops from bottoms. Chop the bottoms into equal-sized pieces, halved or quartered if large. Wash the tops to remove any dirt from the leaves and roughly chop.
- For the seared radishes, heat some oil over medium-high heat, and when just sizzling, add the radishes cut-side down. Season, and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other sides.
- For the pesto, combine all the ingredients except lemon in a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, adding the evoo as you go, enough to make a smooth paste. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days if submerged under oil.