Sunday, May 31, 2009

sometimes, versatility is overrated

The radish is not what you'd call a versatile vegetable.

Easy to grow, yes. Quick to yield results, sure. Visually appealing, certainly. But when it comes down to cooking radishes - well, it's more a matter of not cooking them.

The primary appeal of a radish lies in its crunch. It's like celery without the fibrous chew. Cooked, the radish softens, and all the liquid that gives the radish a juicy, toothsome character ends up turning it soggy. Radishes, like cucumbers, are better eaten raw.

And like cucumbers, they're also better sliced thin. As pretty as they look whole, radishes taste better when cut into paper-thin discs. (They're still quite charming to look at even after they've been sliced - little white rounds with the thinnest edge of red.)

For the simplest preparation, you can layer them with butter and salt on crusty bread. Place them on a bed of cream cheese on sandwich bread with the crusts cut, and you have an interesting alternative to cucumber sandwiches for afternoon tea.

Or you could combine them with mixed greens, hard-boiled egg, and a few other things for a satisfying light spring salad.

Versatile, no. Tasty? Absolutely.

Spring Salad With Radishes

(Serves one as a light meal.)

Put an egg in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook for seven or eight minutes, then remove from heat, pour off the water, and leave the egg under cold running water. Set aside.

Rinse and dry a handful or two of mixed greens, and put them in a big bowl.

Take a handful of radishes (about six or seven, unless they're really tiny), and slice them paper-thin with a very sharp knife or mandoline. Add them to the bowl. Repeat the process with quarter of a small red onion.

Peel the cooled egg, and cut it into slices. Add them to the bowl.

Crumble over a generous slice of decent cheddar (I've used Wensleydale, but any sharp cheddar will work.)

Get out another bowl, and mix together a dollop of mustard, a glug of olive oil, and the juice from half a lemon to form a light dressing. Pour it over the salad. (You might have a bit left over.) Toss gently. Tuck in immediately.


Carl said...

I wonder if you could cut them thin and fry them crispy like potatoes.

Virgin In The Volcano said...

The LA Times has a recipe for a really good looking radish salsa (really like a radish/corn/bell pepper rough relish). I keep meaning to try it but a bag of radishes has lingered in my fridge for a couple of weeks and I've lost hope that I'll actually make it happen. Around here, we eat radishes a lot to cut the heat on really spicy stuff, so it's not just the crunch I like but also the way they seem to cool me.

adele said...

Carl - Radish chips? Might be possible.

Virgin - I can definitely see a radish salsa/relish working.

Cakelaw said...

Amnen - simplicity is often the best, so why mess with it?

adele said...

Cakelaw - Exactly.

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

That looks great. I love eating slightly salted radishes with whipped cream cheese. Or any kind of cheese and ham or turkey, really.

adele said...

Julia - I hadn't thought of it, but now that you mention it, a ham, cheese, and radish sandwich sounds dead tasty. :)