How to Make Green Pasta with Radish or Turnip Tops

Green pasta noodles hang on a drying rack. The rack is sitting on a dark wooden table.
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Reduce wasted greens, eat delicious chewy pasta and add some color to your dinner, all with one simple recipe!

Green with envy-ronmental benefits

For this post, I chose Japanese turnip leaves, preventing them from becoming wasted food, a significant source of emissions. Leaves of similarly mild Daikon radishes also work (as do spinach or parsley). Peppery radish leaves add color but little to no peppery flavor.

I can sometimes get these leafy greens at our farmers’ market for free. When customers ask vendors to remove these tops, the greens go into a bin for other customers to take home to feed to their chickens or humans (or both). If you score lots of these greens, you could use some to make pesto for your pasta. (Go here for a basic pesto recipe.)

The eggs

We buy most of our pastured eggs at the farmers’ market. Occasionally a friend with backyard chickens will give us a dozen. One of the extremely fresh eggs that went into this pasta had straw stuck to it from a friend’s coop!

If you are vegan, you can swap out the eggs for water and additional greens. I have an egg-free pumpkin pasta recipe here that you can use as a guide to veganize this recipe. That recipe doesn’t call for water so you’ll have to add just enough to make a crumbly dough. Add some of that water to the blender. Even after cooking, fibrous turnip greens need a good whir with liquid in order to render a smooth purée.

The flour

I like to use a combination of semolina and all-purpose flour for homemade pasta. All-purpose flour alone will taste delicious but it can stick a bit to a pasta machine. So be sure to use enough flour when shaping the noodles.

I reserved the greens of the white Japanese turnips (right) that went into kimchi
Leafy greens cut from the tops of turnips sit on a wooden cutting board
You can use some of these turnip tops for pesto also
Roll the dough very thinly, roll into a log and cut noodles by hand if you don’t have a pasta machine
This batch contains radish tops
Green pasta noodles hang on a drying rack. The rack is sitting on a dark wooden table.
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5 from 1 vote

Save-All-the-Greens Pasta

Servings: 4


  • 2 cups torn leaves of white Japanese turnips, Daikon radishes or other leafy greens, loosely packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or half all-purpose, half semolina
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cups homemade pesto or other pasta sauce of choice


  • Sauté or steam the greens until wilted. They will shrink down to about ¼ cup once cooked. Purée the cooked greens and eggs in a blender just until combined and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • For a beginner, you may want to use a large bowl to make the pasta. Otherwise, place the flour directly on your work surface. Make a large well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well. With a fork, incorporate the flour from the edges of the well into the egg mixture. Continue until you’ve formed a crumbly dough.
  • Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. (You likely won't need more flour on your work surface.) The dough should spring back after you make an indentation in it with your thumb. If it doesn’t spring back, keep kneading it. This can take about 10 minutes. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
  • IF USING A PASTA MACHINE: Dust each portion with flour before running it through the machine to flatten, starting at the lowest setting (0) and working up to a higher setting (5 or 6). Dust with flour between rollings as needed to prevent the pasta from sticking. Run the sheets through the fettuccine cutter.
  • IF SHAPING THE PASTA BY HAND: Lightly dust the work surface with flour, if necessary, as you roll out each piece of the dough to about ⅛-inch thick. Dust the dough with flour. Roll each piece of the dough up into a very loose tube. You will be slicing noodles from these tubes, so you don’t want them too tightly wound and stuck together. For fettuccine noodles, cut ¼-inch-wide slices from each roll.
  • Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. If you allow the pasta to dry, it will cook more slowly, in about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  • Add the pesto to the now empty pot. Return the noodles to the pot and toss. Serve immediately.

7 Replies to “How to Make Green Pasta with Radish or Turnip Tops”

  1. Fascinating to think people wsste turnip tops…I grow turnips almost entirely for the leaves, the root to me is the bonus part! I only ever let my turnip roots grow to about the size of a radish – the leaves are beautifully tender and delicious.

    1. I totally agree!

  2. What a perfect use for the greens!

  3. lifeofanearthmuffin says: Reply

    YUM – such a great way to reduce the greens waste. Definitely giving this a try!
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

  4. I always, and I mean always, make pesto from different greens, and I often score free carrot tops at the market. These leaves are really nice stir fried too, and if I have a few more “waste” ones from say broccoli, or beets, or cauliflower they become one of my favourite quick meals.

  5. Thank you very much, great idea!

    1. Thank you Paola 🙂

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