Seasonal Chef: Taking a Spicy Bite from a Radish

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If vegetables were a band the radish would be a back-up singer. It’s rare we find them front and center. They are generally part of the ubiquitous crudités platter or scattered over a green salad. It truly seems a shame since they come in such a wide range of color, shape and taste. If you thought they only came in the simple round red shape, found leafless in a plastic bag at the supermarket, think again. Farmers markets everywhere are busting at the seams with piles of colorful radishes. Some loaded with a spicy bite that will make your tongue tingle and beg for more.

I will admit that my favorite way to eat them is right from the market. Rinsed and scrubbed of their residual dirt, I cut them in half, sprinkle with a little salt pop them in my mouth. Generally right in front of the sink. If I have a little of my homemade aioli kicking around, that’s a good dip too. Click here: to see my easy Lemon Aioli recipe.

Radishes stretch back as far that the Hellenistic and Roman periods. They germinate very quickly so it’s one of the vegetables found in a backyard garden. Generally radishes have no real nutritional value. They contain a bit of Vitamin C and Potassium. Otherwise they low in calories, about 1 per radish, and have a teeny bit of sodium. (Probably why they are a “back-up” singer!) The green tops on the other hand carry more vitamins and nutrients than the roots. They are also edible, but very delicate. Once home you need to give the leaves a good rinse and spin and pat dry. They can be added to salads or simply sautéed.

This week I found my creativity juices in overdrive with these tasty taproots. First I decided to pickle them. I have a nice pickling liquid recipe that I use frequently. It’s mild and slightly sweet and I use it for many different types of vegetables. Click here: to see my quick Pickling Liquid recipe.

Pickled Radish and Various Vegetables, Maria Reina, Seasonal Chef

I used the pickling liquid in two different ways: in the first version I pickled the radishes whole along with some pretty yellow beans, cauliflower and corn that I picked up at the market. This is a really fun dish to put out for your guests while they are waiting for the BBQ to get done! It takes no time at all to get together.

In the other I sliced the radishes thin and pickled them alone in the liquid. They turned a really pretty pink color which then lead me to think of another way to use them: in a tea sandwich, or as they are known in Italy, a “tramezzino.”

Radish Green Pesto, Maria Reina, Seasonal ChefI’ve been on the prowl for interesting combinations for these special sandwich appetizers. Radishes with butter and arugula is one you find frequently in various search engines. I took that a step further: using the radish greens I created a simple pesto. I swapped out the butter for goat cheese and added sliced radishes. Click this link: to see my Radish Greens Pesto.

Radish Pesto and Sliced Radish with Chèvre, Maria Reina, Seasonal Chef

My first attempt using the radish plain was definitely tasty. The slightly bitter green was offset by the creamy tang of the goat cheese and mild radish.

Pickled Radish and Radish Pesto

However, using the pickled radish took this right over the edge. No only did it look beautiful, but the blending of flavors was incredible.

Radish Pesto with Pickled Radish and Chèvre, Maria Reina, Seasonal Chef

Bitter, sweet, acidic and creamy flavors all coming together in a fantastic small bite.  This one is definitely for the recipe box!

Whether you are a purist and go for the simple crunch of a radish sprinkled with a little salt, or someone looking for a different twist, don’t pass them up on the farm stand. Just harvested radishes are a sight and taste to behold.

This weekend I will be heading to the Bronxville (on Saturday) and Piermont (on Sunday) Farmers Markets. Stop by my table and say hello. I will have the pickled version and plain on hand to taste. I will be at both markets from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Buon Appetito!

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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