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.