This crunchy, zesty veggie is the unsung hero of spring snacking
Growing up, the only radishes I knew were the little round red ones that showed up sliced like a pile of nickels on top of my salad. Sometimes I could blame a restaurant for the travesty, but usually it was Mom trying to be fancy. I attempted to like them, but the spicy bite* was too much for me. It wasn’t until a girlfriend of mine introduced me to radish and butter sandwiches that I really turned around. I learned to appreciate their crispy, zestiness. Now, I’m a card-carrying member of the radish appreciation club! Here are a few recipes to get you in the mood to ravish the radish.
Radish and Butter Open-Face Sandwiches
This works great with traditional red radishes, but if you want to go really pretty, use watermelon radishes. I also love the more mellow French breakfast radish. Trim the ends of a bunch of radishes of your choice. Thinly slice radishes with a sharp knife or mandoline. Cut a baguette widthwise at an angle for oval-shaped slices about a quarter-inch thick. Slather bread with softened sweet butter; cover with radish slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and devour. Adding freshly ground pepper and sliced chives is nice, too.
Bossy Rossi’s Daikon and Carrot Coleslaw
Peel 1 pound each of carrots and daikon radishes, then grate or cut them into a fine julienne and cover with water (this can be done the day before). Make the dressing by mixing a big shot of rice wine vinegar and a small shot of tamari (you want a 2-to-1 ratio). Sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup (I like a drizzle or two). Add a good plop of minced ginger and a squeeze of sriracha. Drain your carrots and daikon an hour before serving, mix with dressing, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Radishes with Black Olive Tapenade
Throw a handful of pitted Kalamata olives, a smidgen of capers, and a drizzle of olive oil in the food processor and pulse until well chopped. Slice any kind of radish into quarter-inch thick circles. Dollop each slice with a spoonful of olive tapenade, and garnish with thinly sliced scallions, chives, or chopped parsley.
* If you want to get rid of the bite of raw radish, soak it in water for an hour or up to several days.
photo by ANDREA MONZO