Radishes from Kate Reeb's garden

Root-to-Leaf Recipe Uses Whole Watermelon Radish

Culinary Arts student Kate Reeb only had to walk out to her backyard garden to find inspiration for last week’s market basket challenge.

Director of Culinary Research and Development Barry Tonkinson curates a virtual market basket challenge ingredient list each week that our campuses are closed so students and alumni can keep the creative juices flowing at home. This week's must-use ingredient was radishes, and winning student Kate Reeb sourced fresh ingredients from her own garden.

Kate Reeb in her gardenI have to admit I was giddy when I read that the must-use ingredient for the market basket challenge was the often-overlooked, never-a-bride-always-a-bridesmaid, just a garnish, humble radish. Basket in hand, I raced to my garden, plopped down on my knees and carefully reached through my heirloom tomatoes to pluck from the rich soil the first harvest of my watermelon radishes. They smelled divine, the leaves were a healthy, vibrant green and the pinkish root shone through the dirt falling from the plant.

My goal for this challenge was not only to elevate the radish to the center of the plate as the main attraction but to showcase the whole radish plant, both leaves and root, all while balancing and complementing its characteristic sharp, pungent and peppery flavor. In an effort to mellow out the chemical compounds that deliver the famous bite, I sliced and roasted the radishes, coated in oil, for 20 minutes in the oven.

Utilizing the fresh green tops, I prepared a lemony radish top pesto, thus incorporating every part of the plant. Lastly, I paired a rich, creamy polenta to balance the sharpness of each bite. I made the polenta extra creamy and decadent by using mascarpone cheese for a silky texture.

It was extra special to win this challenge because when I started at ICE last November, every day I lugged home vegetable trimmings from class and used them for compost in my garden. I still laugh when I turn the soil and see the earlier poor tournés I buried!


Roasted Radishes with Lemony Top Pesto on Creamy Polenta

Yields 4 servings

Roasted radish polentaRoasted Radishes


  • 12 fresh watermelon radishes with tops
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Wash the radishes and separate the leaves and stalks from the bulb. Set the leaves aside for pesto.
  2. Slice the radishes in half, place on foil, coat with a neutral oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 450 F for 15-20 minutes. Check at 10 minutes and toss radishes.
Radish Top Pesto


  • 4 cups radish tops (packed), washed and dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 1/2 cup sliced walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor
  2. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. Add additional olive oil to achieve a thick consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Creamy Polenta


  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually add polenta, whisking vigorously to avoid clumping. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir, cover and continue cooking until thickened and creamy, about 10 minutes more.
  2. Stir in mascarpone cheese, oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add more broth if the polenta is too thick.
  4. Arrange the roasted radishes over the polenta. Top with pesto.
  5. Garnish with fresh herb leaves.

See more winning student recipes and explore plant-based cooking in Health-Supportive Culinary Arts.

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