David Lebowitz shared the idea of Radish Leaf Pesto. I have adapted it for a Radish Sprout Pesto Pasta. It is a brilliant idea that allows us to utilize a part of the plant that is usually discarded. Unfortunately, young radishes are not available in my market right now. I am, however, able to get radish sprouts. In fact, one can easily grow their own. I have used radish sprouts before as a tasty garnish, and they seemed perfect for this pesto.
My recipe includes a simple radish sprout pesto recipe. This can be made stand-alone for another purpose or for this dish.
Be forewarned this pesto is not a mild preparation. The radish and garlic make for strong flavors. Therefore, I choose to use this in a light cream tomato sauce allowing the cream to soften the flavors. I topped this with slices of roasted pork tenderloin, but other meats could work just as well.
Notes on Ingredients
The radish sprouts were a relatively small batch, making about 1.5 cups of loose sprouts. To this, I added 2 cloves of garlic, a significant amount. I did this aware that I was going to be using a cream sauce and only a small amount of pesto.
Pine Nuts or Almonds?
Lebowitz used almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts. Interesting idea, but toasted pine nuts seemed to be the flavor I wanted. But both could certainly work.
Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce?
I actually made this dish multiple times. (I did really like it.). Pictured and described below the dish is using a homemade tomato sauce (basically cooked tomatoes with a bit of cream). I also made it once with fresh medium tomatoes cooked for a few minutes, which worked well also, since you just need to change the cooking times some as noted in the recipe. Of course, a jar of pasta sauce would also work.
Notes on Technique
My Radish Sprouts Pesto Pasta requires four separate processes. However, it is much easier than it appears. The pesto can be made in advance, as can the tomato sauce. The pork can be cooked ahead of time and served at room temperature. This makes this dish a very easy entertaining dish, because it only requires your attention for cooking the pasta and final assembly.
Pesto is simple to make with a food processor. Add all ingredients to the blender and lightly pulse. It is difficult to determine exactly how much olive oil is needed. Therefore, after the initial pulse, drizzle oil in with multiple light pulses until you have the paste consistency you want.
Click on the process photos below for details.
The Tomato Cream Sauce
The tomato cream sauce was made in the same pan used for mixing in the pasta to finish. Quickly simmer the cream, then add the tomatoes. This is done right before the pasta is finished. Using fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomato sauce or pasta sauce only adds a couple more minutes.
Radish Sprout Pesto
- 1 bunch radish sprouts or leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- Olive Oil
- 4 or more tomatoes (such as roma)
Final Pasta and Pasta Sauce
- 10 ounces pasta (wide such as fettuccine or linguine)
- 4 ounces creme fraiche or heavy cream
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce (or medium tomato)
- 4 tablespoons radish pesto
- Parsley, chopped (or extra radish sprouts) for garnish
The dish requires a relatively small bit of pesto and tomato sauce. The instructions below make more than needed leaving leftovers for other uses. Both freeze well.
Add the quantity needed in the "Pasta and Pasta Sauce" steps below and reserve the remaining for another purpose.
Radish Sprout Pesto
- Add the sprouts, Parmesan, garlic, and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor. Lightly pulse to create a rough mixture.
- Slow drizzle olive oil into the bowl while continuing to lightly pulse. Work slowly, to not over-grind the ingredients or to add too much oil. Continue until a paste is formed.
- The tomato skins can be removed by blanching the tomatoes. Prepare a bowl of ice-cold water. Bring to a boil a pan of water large enough to submerge all of your tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove and immediately submerge in the ice water.
- Remove the tomatoes from the ice water and they should peel easily. Slice the tomatoes open to remove the core, if necessary, and remove the seeds.
- Add the tomatoes to a saucepan and add salt. Cook over low heat for an hour to an hour and a half until thick. Cook as slow as you would like, it only improves it. (See note about seasoning.)
- While the tomatoes are cooking salt as you go along to taste. Remember the final product will be more condensed.
- About an hour before cooking salt the pork well. Return to refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Over a medium flame in an ovenproof pan sear the pork on all sides. About 3-5 minutes on each side. After the pork is seared on all sides, place in the oven until the internal temperature is about 145°F. (About 10 minutes depending on the size of the tenderloin.) Remove from the oven and set aside.
Assemble the Radish Sprout Pasta
Pasta and Pasta Sauce
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
- If using tomato sauce: When there are about 3-4 minutes remaining on the cooking time on the pasta, add the creme fraiche to a saucepan. Simmer lightly for 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and stir into cream to warm. Add the pesto and mix in thoroughly.
If using a fresh tomato: Slice the tomato into chunks. Start the creme fraiche as above with about 5-7 minutes remaining on the pasta then add the tomato to the cream and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pesto and mix in thoroughly
- Add the pasta to the saucepan and about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Simmer gently to let the water absorb and help the sauce stick to the pasta.
- Serve by mounding the pasta on a plate, and top with slices of pork and garnish with chopped parsley or more sprouts.
Note: I use no seasoning in the tomato sauce since I plan to add the pesto later. Any fresh herbs could be added if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 370Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 254mgProtein: 23g
Calculated Nutrition is estimated.