Rad radish recipes
The best way to eat a radish is smeared in butter and dusted with crunchy sea salt. There’s no point arguing this.
Many who’ve gone before have already proved you wrong. It’s important to use room-temperature butter – the most delicious, tangy, cultured butter you can find (extra points for homemade) – and the kind of coarse salt crystals that are big enough to catch the light and sparkle.
If you must dress up the radish (don’t you think it’s pretty enough already, with its smooth skin, supple shoulders and rainbow-bright, firm flesh), well, fine then. Go ahead and slice those babies as thinly as you can and layer them atop a crusty baguette that has been split in half and has itself been buttered and salted.
Here you have the fundamental building blocks of taste – bread, butter, salt and pepper (the radish is the pepper).
Dark rye breads are pretty great in this role, too, as many people of Eastern European descent will tell you.
But the radish comes in such a fun array of costumes – black, hot pink, tie-dyed – that it’s hard to resist playing with your food.
And who knew you could cook a radish? (If you did, good for you, but most North Americans probably haven’t yet had the pleasure of snapping their teeth right through the middle of a hot, baked radish.)
This is an especially good option for folks who don’t appreciate the spicy bite of radishes, because peeling them and cooking them are sure ways to tame their heat.
The pungent note is actually a mustard oil enzyme, much of which lives in the skins, and the enzyme’s pungency softens at high temperatures.
Roasted radishes taste a bit like mild, sweet turnips.
But the best reason to try roasting, braising, broiling, steaming or sauteing the humble radish is that putting old-fashioned foods to new uses can be delightfully creative and satisfying.
Plus, adding your own contribution to your culinary heritage is a sure way to honor it. In this spirit of experimentation, you’ll no doubt discover that the simple old way – raw, dragged through butter and salt – really is the best. But fanning the flames of invention never hurt anybody.
Baked vegetable chips
Here are three reasons to turn radishes and other root veggies into chips:
- It’s laughably easy, yet somehow impressive.
- They make a healthier stand-in for other snacks.
- It’s a great way to use up an abundance of garden goodies.
According to Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, the flavor-pairing gurus behind The Flavor Bible, radishes are good buddies with basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, avocado, cream, cheese, crab and anchovies.
Try serving your chips with a simple dip that mixes any of these, such as Italian bagna cauda, which is a “hot bath” of anchovies, butter, olive oil and garlic. I also like a blend of anchovies, chives and cream cheese; or avocado, cream and crabmeat.
Mixed root vegetables, thinly sliced (You may want to peel some vegetables, such as beets, but with most, if you normally like eating the peels, you can leave them on.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Any herbs you have on hand (optional)
Toss the vegetable slices in the oil and seasonings.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and a single layer of veggie chips.
Bake at 275 degrees for 10 minutes, then flip the slices and bake another 15 minutes.
Check the chips every few minutes, until they are crispy, but not burnt.
Serve warm or cool.
the Russian way
Pungent black radishes are beloved in cold-climate countries, where they last months in storage.
According to Elizabeth Schneider, the author of Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, not so long ago were the days you could hardly find a Russian tabletop without a snacky spread of zakuski (“little bites”).
Alongside hearty black bread, pickled mushrooms, roasted beets, herring, sturgeon and, of course, vodka and caviar, you’d find black radishes grated into a chilly soured cream.
You might like grated black radishes used this way in Indian raita or Greek tzatziki, with yogurt taking the place of the sour cream and the radishes replacing the cucumbers.
Slices of pungent black radish are also a fabulous stand-in for horseradish on a steak sandwich.
1 cup coarsely grated black radishes (The large holes on a standard cheese grater work well.)
1 cup Russian or Greek sour cream (It’s worth using the real thing if you can find it. If not, try another sour cream or creme fraiche.)
Quick squeeze of fresh lemon
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with hearty country bread.
If you want to go all the way with the Russian theme, serve alongside a selection of zakuski.
Have you ever tried a baked radish? Roasting tones down the heat of the mustard oil in raw radishes, and real maple syrup amps up their sweetness.
1 bunch radishes, scrubbed, topped and tailed
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (If using salted butter, omit the extra salt.)
1 to 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 to 1 teaspoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground (optional)
1/2 to 1 tablespoons fresh ginger root, grated (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small baking dish, coat the radishes in the softened butter, then pour the maple syrup over them.
Sprinkle on a dusting of salt, cinnamon and ginger, if using.
Adjust the quantities of cinnamon and ginger to your liking.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife or fork can be easily inserted into a radish.
Excerpted from Mother Earth News , the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles visit www.MotherEarthNews.com. Copyright 2011 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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