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Red and White Salad with Radish Top Pesto

by Belly of the Beast, Northampton

4 medium heirloom tomatoes of various colors
1 pint husk cherries
4 small radishes, with their greens
4oz Feta in brine
Herbs of multiple sorts (basil, thyme, dill, parsley, mint, lemon verbena are all great together or separately)
Coarse sea salt and pepper to finish

Radish Top Pesto

Greens from the radishes
2 cloves garlic
Herbs, same as above
1/2 C Olive Oil, plus more if needed or desired
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C Almonds (optional)

Prepare the salad

Remove the hard core from the tomatoes and slice to 1″x2″ slices; place into a bowl large enough to hold everything.
Remove outer paper layer from the husk cherries and place fruit into the bowl.
Remove the greens from the radishes and set aside. Slice the radishes into matchsticks by cutting into 1/4″x1″ pieces and place in the bowl.
Choose a selection of herbs that are available or are favorites and finely chop. Place into the bowl.

Prepare the pesto

Wash the radish greens and pat dry. Chop up the radish greens. If you have a blender, this can be a rough chop. If you do not have a blender mince the greens as small as you can by running a knife over them many times.
Mince the garlic cloves the same way, and add to the radish greens. Chop the herbs and add to the mix.
If you do not have a blender, place the minced greens, herbs, and garlic into a bowl and add the oil and mix thoroughly.
If you have a blender, pour in the oil and add some of the greens, herbs, and garlic. Process to a puree. Add more of the greens, herbs, and garlic and, if necessary, more oil. Continue in this manner until the greens are all pureed. The amount of oil is subjective. You can make a loose pesto with more oil or a more spreadable version using less. The amount of oil called for here will produce a chunkier pesto. The amount also depends on the amount of greens that you are able to use from the radishes.
If you wish, lightly toasted almonds are a nice addition to the pesto. Toast them in a 350ยบ oven or on a frying pan on the stove top for 5-8m, checking halfway through. Add them along with some additional oil to the greens mixture and blend. If you don’t have a blender, chop them with a knife and add to the bowl and mix together.
Taste the pesto and add some salt and pepper to your desired palate.

Finish the salad

If the pesto is loose, place a couple spoonfuls into the bowl and toss to coat. Taste and add more if necessary.
If the pesto is chunky, toss the salad with just a little bit of oil and add the pesto in a couple of spoonfuls on top.
Finish with chunks of feta cheese and some coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
This recipe was featured during the 2018 Tuesday Market Summer Chef Series and created by Jesse Hassinger, chef and owner of Belly of the Beast, Main Street, Northampton.
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