Sometimes I've wondered what it's like to be a vegetable that comes up by your hair. Can you see the hands when they're coming? Is the moment of picking precipitated by terrible dread?
I know I probably shouldn't admit this, but these are the sorts of dilemmas I like to mull over in the garden as I weed.
I went out to the cold frame to weed yesterday—believe it or not, (yes!) there are weeds—and found myself wondering over this as I contemplated pulling a radish. I gauged the size of the greens—nearly a foot high, and leafy. They looked full-bodied enough, though I knew there was
likely to be little in the soil beneath. But I was curious, and so I pulled and was delighted with the little root I found.
This first root was a small radish—a very small radish, to tell the truth. But it wasn't so small as those wisps of carrots you sometimes pull; it had, at the very least, some girth. I took it inside and washed it down, pulled the dirt and snarls from its toes. I yanked off its hair in one swift grip, and scrubbed it down to a nice white coat.
I'd picked some greens outside too, and a pair of purple scallions, and discovered that between the three we had the makings for a salad. I washed the lettuce carefully, mixing a four season red with leafy green, sorrel, and mache. They were baby greens, roughly the length of my fingers, but they had plenty of flavor and good color. Next went the scallions, sliced into tiny, ringlet bites.
Finally, it came time for the radish. I cut off its roots and then its hair, and the body I chopped into slivers. A distinctly fresh smell filled the kitchen, an earthy scent with an air of minerals about it. I threw the tiny slices into the salad, crumbled a bit of goat cheese on top, and dressed it with salt and pepper and a bit of vinaigrette. Greek olives topped it off, and on this second to last day of the year, we sat down to eat our very own green salad.
YEAR'S END SALAD
2 cups mixed greens (red and green lettuce, mache, spinach, and sorrel)
1 small radish, sliced thin
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 ounces greek olives, pits removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon very sweet vinegar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix greens with radish and scallions in a medium size serving bowl. Top with goat cheese and greek olives. Mix oil, vinegars, and salt and pepper into a dressing, and drizzle over the salad. Toss and serve fresh. (This is excellent with winter soup.)