Zesty, Zippy, Zingy Radishes

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Radishes surely must a gardener?s delight; I know they?re one of mine. Gently tugging a bunch of bright red bulbs loose from the soft, warm earth, the feast of color is almost as pleasing on the eyes as their distinctive flavor is on the palate. Radishes grow quickly and can be harvested early, which means the crop can be renewed to provide several crops in one season. And they don?t require a ton of room, which leaves lots of garden space for luscious late season tomatoes.

Recently, the boyfriend and I were dining at a dependable Italian restaurant in NE Portland and spied breakfast radishes on the dinner menu. Intrigued and pleased by the offering of seasonal cuisine, of course we ordered them. When the order arrived at our table, it was a simple plate of raw, whole radishes with a particularly untruffley truffle butter on the side for dipping. Frankly, it was a bit of a let down. But at the same time, it was also an inspiration. For at the top of our minds and the forefront of our lips was the discussion about what the chef could have actually done with those beautiful fingerling radishes to make them more exciting for the diner. The man and I see very much eye-to-eye on these sorts of things.

Radishes were actually one of the first European crops introduced in the Americas, but their roots seem to lie in Southeast Asia (the first recipe below is a nod to this heritage). They?re one of those easy vegetables, adding color, crunch and a peppery spice to a summer salad or you can just pop them into your mouth for a healthy and delicious snack all on their own. But there?s so much more one can do with radishes; following are four?ideas that don?t include just putting them on a plate.

Cucumber and Radish Salad
One English cucumber sliced in very thin rounds
One dozen radishes, sliced as thin as you can get them
? red onion, sliced in half, then thinly sliced
3 T Fresh mint leaf ribbons
? cup rice wine vinegar
1 t mirin
1 T lime juice
2 T olive oil
? t sea salt

1. Mix all ingredients, let sit for one hour before serving (can be chilled or left room temperature).

Crostini with Pesto and Radish
Sea-salted crostini
? lb. of pesto
6 shaved radishes

1. Spread pesto on crostini, top with shaved radish, and voila! Beauty, flavor and interest all in one tasty little bite.

Radishes with Burrata
Burrata is one of those cheeses that makes me long for the days when I could still eat dairy. And watermelon radishes might just be one of the most beautiful vegetables around with their kaleidoscope of color inside. This recipe is the perfect combination of creamy/crunchy and savory/spicy.

? lb. burrata
4 watermelon radishes thinly sliced
2 T olive oil
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 chives, chopped for garnish
Zest of one lemon, for garnish

1. Spread burrata on a serving plate.
2. Toss radishes with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and arrange over cheese (include all the dressing).
3. Top with chives and lemon zest.

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