I can't quite say if the spring is making me see green or if I'm just trigger happy with my food processor, but pesto has been relentlessly invading my meals lately. Always game for incorporating unusual suspects into the whirlwind of oil and nuts, this week I concocted one version with radishes and another with dill. The radish pesto is comprised mainly the radish leaves (plus a few whole radish bulbs), is bulked up with hazelnuts and brightened with lemon zest. Parmesan and olive oil ground the tart flavor, but the peppery radish shines through, creating an especially pungent pesto. It is delicious spread on crusty bread, or tossed with warm chickpeas and incorporated into a simple salad of arugula, roasted asparagus and tofu [above].
In contrast to the bright radish version, the dill pesto has a much deeper, slightly sweet herbal flavor. Chives add a mild, oniony element, with garlic, lemon zest and a spot of dijon mustard elevating the overall flavor. I whipped up a simple roasted carrot soup and stirred in a dollop of the pesto for a delicious earthy fusion.
ROASTED CARROT SOUP WITH DILL PESTO
[Makes: About 4 servings]
8 large carrots
3 garlic cloves
1/2 red onion
3 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
1/2 cup firm tofu, cubed
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup pepitas
1 cup fresh dill
1/2 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 400 dgF. Peel and chop carrots into smaller pieces. Toss with olive oil and spread on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until carrots are golden and tender.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil a medium pot over medium-high. Chop 1/2 red onion and 3 garlic cloves. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant and browning, about 5 minutes. Add roasted carrots to the pot along with 3 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender enough to puree. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency. Add 1/2 cup firm tofu and continue to puree. (Or you can skip the tofu if you want a thinner soup). Add more liquid as needed and season with salt and pepper.
3. Garnish with chives and dill and serve with a dollop of dill pesto (recipe below).
Dill Pesto: Peel and crush 2 garlic cloves. Add 1/4 cup hazelnuts and 1/4 cup pepitas to a food processor and pulse to a fine texture. Add garlic cloves and continue to pulse. Add 1 cup fresh dill and 1/2 cup chives, pulse until combined with the nuts and garlic. Add olive oil and continue to process until smooth. Stir in about 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and sea salt, adjusting to taste.
1 small bunch radishes, greens attached
1 small garlic clove, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
Peel and crush 1 garlic clove. Add 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts to a food processor and pulse to a fine texture. Add garlic clove and continue to pulse. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups radish leaves and about 6 chopped radish bulbs; pulse until combined with the nuts and garlic. Add 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more as needed), 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp lemon zest and continue to process until smooth. Stir in sea salt and adjust flavors to taste.