Here’s my most prominent memory of radishes. They sat, clustered, with pitted black olives and sliced fennel, on small plates in the center of my grandmother’s long table. I was so small, I could barely reach them.
Greens trimmed to create mini handles and bulbs sliced haphazardly to create the illusion of rosettes. Not my first choice of a snack, but the only one allowed to a child before our family tucked into the annual May home-made ravioli dinner to honor my father’s birthday. I can still hear some disembodied female voice saying, “Don’t ruin your appetite. Have a radish.”
Times have changed. Radishes are edging their way from center table to center stage, no longer relegated to crudité or salad-enhancement status. How do I know this?
Well, there is a concerted effort underway to let it be known that Peter Rabbit, hero of the infamous Beatrix Potter books, is actually nibbling on a radish, and not a carrot, in her famous illustrations.
Moreover, the lowly radish was the secret ingredient at Kitchen Stadium on a recent episode of The Iron Chef. Battle Radish. How much more proof do you need?
Still in doubt? Samuel Becket waxed prosaic about radishes, stating “What do I know about man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.” Well, Samuel, let me help you out with some details.
The radish, a root vegetable and member of the mustard and cabbage genus, has been cultivated in Massachusetts since 1629. There are 220 people in the United States with the last name Radish. Like a good knock-knock joke, radishes come in Black and White and Red (all over).
But most importantly, radishes are delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and useful, since every part of the radish can be consumed. I’m not talking medicinal consumption, here, as in “eat a radish, your digestion will improve.” I’m talking spicy pickled radishes, radish greens spun in pesto and tossed with pasta, radishes sautéed in butter as a crunchy but satisfyingly mellow version of its former-self side-dish, oven roasted radishes with herbs (they are a root veggie, after all) or heaped on bruschetta with tangy feta cheese.
This recipe for pickled radishes is courtesy of Sweet Paul Magazine. Paul Lowe is a blogger, food and prop stylist and crafter who shares his love affair with food, style, crafts, and much more in a absolutely gorgeous quarterly magazine you can read online. The title of the article is “the best summer pickle.” Spiced with coriander, ginger, mint and lime, they’re an eye catching hot pink.
So, I’m off on Friday to Montreal with Jonathan for the joint purpose of celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and taking a workshop with Aran Goyoaga, the author and photographer of Cannelle et Vanille, an award winning blog. Can’t wait to share in future posts.
Makes 2 pint jars
- 1 cup water
- ½ c + 2 tbs. cider vinegar
- 1 tbs. honey
- zest and juice of ½ lime
- 1 clove garlic, slices
- 2 tbs minced ginger
- 2 tsps. Salt
- pinch pepper
- 1 tbs. coriander in sachet
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig mint, leaves removed
- In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except radishes, onions, and mint and bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Let the pickles cool at room temperature, then transfer to jars and store, covered in the refrigerator.
Buttered Radish, Sweet Pea and Sheep’s Milk Feta Salad with Parsley Vinaigrette
For the salad:
- One bunch radishes, cleaned and trimmed, and quartered.
- 1 tsp. butter
- 1 cup sweet peas, shelled, blanched in salted water.
- 1/2 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese, cubed or crumbled.
- Two slices of good quality French or Italian Bread, cut into cubes, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and toasted in a sauté pan until golden.
For the Parsley Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste.
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
- Blend thoroughly. Reserve, covered, until ready to use.
- Layer ingredients, beginning with croutons, and ending with feta cheese, on salad plates or in clear bowls or glasses.
- Spoon 2 – 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over salad.
- Serve immediately.