Quick Marinated Radish Salad

It’s Friday, our last post of the week, and I’m leaving you with a radish salad.  I know, right?  The thing is, lately I’ve been having a total love-in with radishes.  I woke up the other day from a dream that I was eating radishes sauteed in butter and thyme with a sprinkle of flaky fleur de sel on top.  In the middle of the afternoon today I could suddenly taste the sharp peppery bite of a fresh radish snapped off the stem and eaten raw.  I’ve been thinking about broiled radish and honey tartlettes on a buttery puff pastry crust, or braised radishes in thick cream.  These are sweet dreams indeed.  In short, I find them….radishing. And I make no apology for that sentence.

It must have been in the 1970’s that radishes started to fall from grace.   They went from a farm crop that nobody in North America really knew what to do with, into that ubiquitous bolt of color in a steakhouse chopped salad.  Thinly sliced radishes would languish for hours on end under plastic sneeze-guards in the salad bar, slowly wilting and taking on the taste and texture of a particularly toothsome bit of insulation.  We went from thinking of radishes as our delicious friends into thinking of radishes as those bits we would pick out through a pool of tangy golden Italian dressing.

Here is where I admit that, from time to time, in this blog I often write posts that have a bit of an ulterior motive.  A couple of years ago I saw a picture of freshly plucked radishes, shimmering with the rain water that they were washed in, dipped carelessly in crusty sea salt and eaten out of hand.  I fell a little bit in love.  It pains me to see radishes relegated to the second class citizen section of the produce aisle, and a small part of myself dies when I go to three separate grocery stores trying to buy a tied bunch of fresh radishes with their greens and the best that I can get is a re-sealable bag of ruby reds that have been topped and tailed long enough ago that they’re already starting to fester.  And yet, despite the odds and questionable freshness of said produce, I will still happily cart a bag home with sweet musings of soft white bread smeared with cold butter and thinly sliced ruby gems, or sweet and tangy radish pickles in their sexy pink brine.  You see, I adore radishes, and I want YOU to love them as much as I do, because then we can increase our radish consumption and positively affect the global supply chain in such a way that I might get easier access to a fresh bundle on a Thursday afternoon.

Hey, at least I’m honest about my hidden agendas.

If you don’t mind radishes, but you wouldn’t exactly cross the road to buy a bunch, I urge you to try and see them in a different light.  Instead of allowing your radishes to be a bit part in a second rate production, give them center stage.  Let your radishes be the star of the show a few times, and see if you don’t become won over by their water crunch, sharp and peppery bite, and glorious ruby red skin against cool and snowy white flesh.

To help you along, here is a quick marinated radish salad that takes next to no time to prepare but shows off radishes to their best advantage.  Sweet onions are a sharp contrast against the piquant radish, but tempered with sweet lime and herbal flavors you actually get a balanced “palate cleanser” of a salad that cuts through heavy meats and starches in a heart beat.

I once ate a similar salad at a Brazilian steak house, and it was the perfect foil for smoky charred meat and dense breads.  Ever since then, I’ve been fixated on the notion of bright chopped raw vegetable salads with juicy grilled meats.  It can come as no wonder then that when I asked Mike what he wanted for dinner and he said, “Red meat….something spicy….rice and beans….” I thought of Brazillian churrasco (char-grilled meats) with arroz con frijoles (rice and beans) and a fresh chopped salad to brighten the meal and encourage my metabolism to keep plugging along.

Quick Marinated Radish Salad

Serves 4 as a small side dish

  • 1 bunch radishes (about 15)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion *
  • small handful cilantro or mint (~2.5 tbsp chopped)
  • small handful parsley (~2.5 tbsp chopped)
  • 1 large lime (~3.5 tbsp juice)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil **
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

* I like the brightness of a sweet white onion, but a milder Vidalia or Walla Walla would be delightful.

** Use the best extra virgin olive oil that you have.  Buddy, we have six ingredients (excluding salt and pepper).  Make them count.  Find a rich, golden, full bodied olive oil and choose to use that in this salad.

Finely mince the onion.  Cut the stem end off the radishes (and the tail if you must, although I like the curly little tendrils because they bring out my cheek-pinching-vowel-speaking side) and quarter them vertically.  Elongated European radishes are perfect for this, but if you have bulbous little runts like I do then you can chop them up into chunks as you see fit.

Squeeze the juice of the lime over top and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the cilantro (or mint) and parsley.  Toss everything together and leave it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before consumption. Oh god. I am now referring to dinner time as “consumption”.  What have I become?

Be sure to consume the salad that day though, because although it doesn’t suffer over time it certainly discolors. Mind you, if you’re a fan of all things pink……

This bright, crisp and peppery salad is glorious alongside simply grilled meats or fatty starches. I should have mentioned this before, but if you aren’t quite confident enough in the radish to make this a salad, it is equally delectable in condiment form and served as a salsa.  Instead of quartering the radishes, give them a fine chop (roughly the same size as the onion).  The sweet, bold, piquant salsa is well worth the effort of chopping a few radish.

Now just in case you thought I was blowing smoke with the whole, “Don’t worry! I promise it’s about more than just delicious radishes because this is a South American…..ohhh….RAD-ishes….” I leave you with this picture.  We’re talking a full Brazillian style meal on a budget that can be prepared on a Thursday night without making you want to cry.  Because, my friends, as much as I’m a fan of radishes, I am also a fan of smoky charred meats that are grilled to a juicy rare, luscious and flavorful bacon rich black beans, garlicky buttered rice……and crunchy radish salads.  See?  The *rest* is yet to come.

  • Erica

    1) I both love and want that bowl. Pretty!
    2) Would a chopped green apple be amiss in that salad? I’m wondering if the tart/sweetness would mesh or clash.

  • http://jennymoo.tumblr.com JennyM

    Duuuude, you are preaching to the choir on this one. I am growing radishes in my garden this year and the hardest part for me is to actually get them into the house. I have (ahem) been known to dust them off and eat them straight out of the ground. IS THAT SO WRONG?

    But this recipe looks worth saving a few from my gaping maw long enough to marinate.

  • Jason

    Well this is an interesting conundrum… it looks like Mike posted the piece and I was glad he hopped into the food ring and waxed so eloquently about his affection for a vegetable, but before the recipe I see, “when I asked Mike what he wanted for dinner ” and realize it was Tina in the drivers seat. A good “sharp and peppery bite” indeed! Thanks for the pleasant wake-up : )

    If you coursley chop the radishes in this salad and create more a salsa fresca, this is the perfect topping to soft tacos or enchiladas. Another way to exercise your enjoyment of the lowly radish. Radishes are pouring into the farmers markets here in California, so I know what will be on the table tomorrow.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Man, if I had a nickel for every time the raw force of Tina’s living mind took control of my body to post stories about radish salad on the internet… whew, let me tell ya, I wouldn’t be working for a living.

      Seriously though, thanks for that, I’ll fix it.

  • Nicole

    Erica beat me to it: the bowl is stunning. I love lotus bowls and that one doesn’t look like any I have ever seen before.

    This. Salad. Looks. Amazing. Going to drag the boy to Whole Foods this weekend and convince him to let me make it.

    By the way, speaking of Whole Foods: they have, on their prepared foods line, an “Ethiopian Berber Three Grain Salad.” I don’t know what your perspective on Whole Foods is but it is the most delicious thing I have ever put into my mouth and I have not been able to replicate it. Should you be in Whole Foods, curious, and up for a challenge, I would give you my firstborn child if you’d tackle that/just give me some advice on the herb balance (the ingredients list is there on the label but I cannot– make– it– work–).

    I love your blog. It is the only food-centric blog I read.

    • http://www.aperfectversionofmyself.wordpress.com Tara

      I love this salad. I second nominating Tina to replicate this. And then give us the recipe.

  • http://muskegharpy.blogspot.com/ Jacquie

    Oh Radishes! I love them so much. I pretty much eat them in salted olive oil. They are really good with fish too. I tend to like them in their raw/pickled form. Haven’t found a way to cook them that doesn’t turn them to muck.

  • http://img365.eu Img

    By the way, speaking of Whole Foods: they have, on their prepared foods line, an “Ethiopian Berber Three Grain Salad.” I don’t know what your perspective on Whole Foods is but it is the most delicious thing I have ever put into my mouth and I have not been able to replicate it. Should you be in Whole Foods, curious, and up for a challenge, I would give you my firstborn child if you’d tackle that/just give me some advice on the herb balance (the ingredients list is there on the label but I cannot– make– it– work–).

  • http://www.erikorganic.com/bedroom/bed-frames.shtml bed frames

    This is a very refreshing salad! I like the combination of the flavors.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Erica – I think a chopped green apple would really change the flavor and character of the salad, but not necessarily in a bad way! It might make it better suited for the side of fatty fish or grilled pork though.

    Glad you like the bowl! I bought a nested set of 3 and use them all the time (usually when there are apps/tapas out), which makes them well worth the $2 they cost at Value Village!!

    JennyM – Eating earth warm produce fresh from the garden is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and now I’m jealous that I didn’t carve out a patch in my tiny pod-sized garden for radishes. Sigh.

    Jason – I agree, this is PERFECT for a salsa if finely chopped! As for the name, I am perennially doing that! Being both lazy and unobservant, if Mike has signed in before I get to the computer, it’s always a toss up as to who the article will be “written” by!

    Nicole – aw, shucks. Thank you very much lady! We really appreciate the time that you took to comment! Now as for the Ethiopian Berber salad, I make a pledge: only because you, Tara and Img (who may or may not be a spambot) all asked me to, I will actually drag my sorry arse downtown to the posh area of Toronto that I so abhor, because it’s the only WhoFo within an hour’s drive. I can’t promise that I won’t complain about their lack of parking, the irritatingly smug sales people trying to sell me overpriced grains, or the number of women with dog-in-purses that will inevitably go along with this trip, but I will do my best.

    Jacquie – Ooh, share your pickled radish recipe please!!!!!

  • Nicole

    YESSS. It is worth fighting crowds of women with Malteses tucked into their Coach bags, (and snide trust-fund dreadlocked vegans eyeing the milk on your conveyor belt with an eye full of judgment, if yours is like mine) I promise. You may want to call ahead though; it’s pretty much a crapshoot whether any of them around here have it, except for one, which always has a giant mouthwatering mound no matter what day or time of day it is.

    You are awesome.

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    This is a very refreshing salad! I like the combination of the flavors.

  • Demetra Lambros

    Hi Tina,
    I have been reading some of your posts lately and I am LOVING them! Have been buying up a storm of radishes recently so loved this post. I don’t think I even looked twice at a radish until a few years ago. Guess I am making up for lost time now. I love your enthusiasm and your writing style, not to mention your cooking instructions. I live in Greece and I am always looking for english-language food talk that is inspiring and entertaining. THANK YOU!

  • Demetra Lambros

    BTW, you had me wrapped around your little finger with just the radish part. then you threw the full plate at us. WOW! that composition was just a feast for my eyes–love EVERYthing about it and was thrilled to see that you are a rare-meat person (the correct kind). 😉

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Demetra – thank you so much for the kind words! We’re glad that you enjoy our site. Awesome to find a fellow food-friend who both adores radishes AND rare meat! You’re my kind of woman.

      Thank you again for your kind comments. It’s always such a joy to get to know a bit more about who is out there!!

  • Niki

    I have been in love with radishes ever since we got them from the farmer’s market in Saudi when growing up. They were so huge and delicious I ate them like apples. Something else to think about when the garden is planted next year.

  • Pingback: What to do with all those Radishes? | Small Farms CSA()

  • http://www.anglaisrecycle.fr Steve @ recycledenglish.com

    That looks really nice, wish I had some nicer olive oil than the stuff I use for cooking. Too late to go back to the market



  • Katie

    This is delicious! Thanks for the recipe, we absolutely loved it!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Katie – so glad that you enjoyed it and thanks for letting us know!! I’m so excited that summer is here. I plant a whack of fresh radishes and carrots every year. They never grow, mind you, but I still like this stage of gardening where I’m unbearably hopeful and planning the next salad!

  • Scream

    I’m trying to spread the word on the internet about popcorn salt and radishes. Popcorn salt is perfect for snacking on raw radishes. The popcorn salt doesn’t bounce off a radish like ordinary salt does. Strange mission, I know.
    PS. Radishes should never be cooked.

  • Luisa

    Great writing!  I’ve got R in the fridge just now. Makes me want to “Radish” them!

  • Adina West

    Holy char-grilled smoky cow! I just wanted to find a salad for radishes, and did I ever come to the right place…

    Don’t want to make you too jealous, but I have two bunches with beautiful green leafy tops which came in my farm fresh vege box and I didn’t know what to do with them. Now I do, so thank you!

    Off to scavenge in my winter garden for cilantro and mint…

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Adina West – you HAVE officially made us very jealous with your tales of fresh radish glory. If you try this simple salad, please let us know what you think! Also, “holy char-grilled smoky cow” is quite possibly my new favorite expression and I plan to find a way to work it into at least two conversations every day….