Radishes Three Ways
By now you’re radishes are either nearing the time for harvest, or you can find them fresh on the stands of a local farmer’s market. Even though they’re available year round, spring is their time to shine. If you don’t already cook with or eat radishes, I know I’ve been pushy about this; but I hope these dishes make up for it. I’ve tested ideas, experimented on my husband, and we’ve enjoyed each one. I hope you do to.
Incremental Radishes with Butter:
Fresh slices of radish with real butter and a coarse sea salt is one of the most classic ways to prepare radishes. Why butter? It cools and compliments the peppery bite. The salt enhances the flavor of both. When all three are combined, it’s a spicy, creamy, crisp combination that is deliciously simple, and far from basic.
For about 4 servings, you will need:
1 bunch of radishes
¼ cup Softened high-quality butter*
Coarse or flake sea salt to taste
1-2 Tbsp Flat Italian parsley (opt.)
Radish & Parsley compound butter: This was the result of not wanting to waste odd slivers and ends after slicing radishes for pickles. So the little bits were finely diced, mixed into some butter, and it was a fun way to top leftover naan. This is my recommendation for those who know they like bread and butter; but aren’t so sure about the raw radish part.
For 4 tbsp of butter, finely dice 3-4 med. Radishes and about 1 Tbsp chopped parsley. Mix both into softened butter and chill for about 5-10 min. Spread on a slice or torn piece of baguette, sprinkle with salt and nibble away.
Layered slices - This is the first way I tried them, paper-thin slices, layered on a baguette smeared with butter and finished with sea salt.
Straight up - This is my favorite preparation… Sans the bready middleman. Slice a radish in half, apply butter and – once again – a dash of salt.
*About the butter. Please do not grab the opened stick of butter (even if it’s organic) out of your fridge for this. It will taste like fridge butter instead of sweet, churned goodness. You know what I’m talkin’ about.
Quick Pickled Radishes with Ginger:
Resting radishes in gingery brine reminds me the flavors I enjoy most with sushi. The indirect warmth of wasabi that builds from the back of the palate and radiates into the olfactory zone, the sweet, sour floral spice of pickled ginger and a hint of salt. This pickled vegetable is a delicate doorway to umami. This is a light pickling mixture that makes a very versatile snack or condiment. I used it to top an unfussy tuna salad, and would do it again… It was a tasty risk. Next time, I’m thinking seared tuna tacos.
You will need:
¼ cup radishes (about 2-4) sliced thin
¼ cup room temp water
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
⅛ Tbsp fresh grated ginger
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Light drizzle of raw honey (optional)
Mix the water, vinegar and salt in a small jar or ramekin, layer in radishes finish with grated ginger. Give the mixture a little turn to get the ginger intermingled and allow it to rest for about 20-30 min. depending on your preference for pickle potency.
Roasted Radishes and Spring Vegetables over Quinoa:
This is less of a hard-lined recipe, and more like preparation tips for a cozy, colorful dish. I love roasting vegetables. It brings all of their sugar to the surface in a caramelized gloss. The texture is tender with fine, crispy edges – maybe a little char – and deepened color. Roasted vegetables can make an Omnis like us ignore meat on the plate, and two out of three boys will devour them.
I also deeply appreciate how informal the preparation is. Instead of strictly measuring quantities, the goal is to find a pleasing ratio and roll with it. The only caveat is to mind the sizes. When roasting a combination like this – sprouts with a few different roots – you want to vary the size of your chop by cooking time. So things that will roast more quickly (the sprouts and radishes) will be cut larger and those that take more time (like beets and carrots) will be cut smaller so everything is equally done at the same time. Each separate group of vegetable should be cut as uniformly as possible.
As for quinoa – nicknamed “curly rice” in our house – the nutty flavor, the versatility and ease with which it can me made, means it’s on our table almost once a week. This little seed cooks like a grain; with all of the benefits of a nutrient dense protein. You can find it sprouted, and in white, red and black varieties. I’ve used a blend of all three in this dish.
You will need (in quantities to your liking):
Radishes - I’ve used french breakfast radishes here.
Fresh Parsley, Rosemary & Thyme
EV Olive oil
Vegetable stock (at least 16 oz)
Salt & Pepper
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
Yellow onion or shallot
For the vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 400º and line a standard baking sheet with parchment or foil (have two ready if you’re making a larger amount). Quarter the radishes and sprouts lengthwise. Slice carrots about ½ in. thick on the bias and chop the beets into rough ½ in. cubes. Toss the vegetables together on the baking sheet in a single layer. Crowded veggies steam instead of roast, and that equals mush. Drizzle these with olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper and give them a gentle toss to evenly coat. Tuck in a few whole sprigs of thyme and rosemary and into the oven it goes for about 25-30** min or until the carrots are tender.
*If you really don’t like sprouts, roast the beets, carrots and radishes and quickly broil some asparagus - w/ olive oil, S&P - to add at the end.
**If you like your roots very tender and your sprouts still a little firm, start the beets and carrots first and add the sprouts and radishes after about 10 min.
For the quinoa:
For 1 uncooked cup of quinoa (which makes about 4 cooked servings), finely dice 1 clove of garlic and about ¼ cup onion or shallot. Give these a quick sauté in 2 Tbsp (+/-) of olive oil on med heat. It should look like there’s a little more oil than you need. Once the onions and garlic have softened, add 1 cup of quinoa and quickly stir to coat it in the oil. It will toast just a bit while you measure 1 ⅔ -1 ¾ cup of vegetable stock. Add this to the pot and turn it up to med high heat until it comes to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes. You can season with salt and pepper just after adding the stock or when it’s finished; but no stirring while it’s cooking. After 10-15 min. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Serve on a plate or in a bowl, garnished with fresh parsley.
Whew! Still with me?
Whether you decide to try them raw, pickled or roasted, I do hope you will add this vegetable to your arsenal. Sometimes we miss out on a wonderful variety of flavors (and nutrients) due to a lack of familiarity. And there are so many different things to grow. So let’s get familiar and plan for our gardens, from our plate! Happy radish hunting my fellow fraggles.