Radishes. They're tempting, right? It's not just me? They sit there at the farmers' market all pink and blushing and suddenly there are three bunches on your kitchen counter and you have no idea what to do with them. Because while radishes are nice in salads and just for snacking, plain, that's not going to take care of three bunches in a week, not to mention the greens.
I figured farmers probably have this same problem except even worse, so last week, I decided to ask them what they do. I got all kinds of answers—everyone said they snacked on them, raw, straight from the garden, and sliced up fresh over salads—but I got some new ideas, too. Here are the best ones, I think—from the farmers' at the Orleans market, to me, to you:
1. Oven-roasted radishes
This comes from Kristen Watkins, who with her boyfriend Lucas Dinwiddie runs Halcyon Farm in Brewster. They grow French Breakfast radishes, and a few weeks ago, looking for inspiration, they decided to roast them in the oven, the way you would potatoes. They scrubbed them, then trimmed the greens so there were a few little stems still on, the way you sometimes see fancy restaurants do with small carrots. Then they sliced them in half, tossed them with olive oil and lemon juice and a little bit of salt and pepper, and roasted them on 400 degrees F for 10 or 15 minutes. Kristen says the roasting changed their texture—made them soft and juicy and a little bit crispy around the edges—and also made them sweet.
2. Radish pasta salad
This is Darnell Caffoni's recipe, from Boxwood Gardens in Orleans. She's a big fan of cold summer pasta salads, and one with chopped spring radishes and carrots, torn up salad greens, a few slivers of hard-boiled egg, and a Greek or Italian style dressing is her favorite. Just be sure to get the radishes this time of year, she says, while they're still young—later in the season they'll get kind of pithy, and won't be so mild.
3. Sautéed radish greens
Every farmer I talked with agreed you should save the greens. Like turnip greens, they're super healthy and also super tasty. Ron Backer likes his sautéed in olive oil with a little bit of spring garlic and asparagus—yum! I'd add an egg over easy and a slice of toast and sit down to breakfast.
4. Radish greens in pasta
Kristen Watkins says that her favorite thing to do with the greens is chop them up and toss them into hot pasta to wilt, the way you would with basil or arugula. She especially likes doing this with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, grated Parmesan, and a little bit of salt and pepper.
The other night, I tried two of these ideas. I grabbed two bunches of radishes—one French Breakfast and one Easter Egg—and cut off the greens. I set the greens aside, then scrubbed the radishes and chopped them in half. I tossed the radishes in a roasting pan with a diced onion and a little bit of olive oil and some fresh rosemary, and put them in the oven on 400. Then I boiled a pot of whole-wheat rotini and cooked a few slices of bacon. When the bacon was done, I sautéed the radish greens in the grease with a little bit of minced garlic, and grated a handful of cheddar cheese. Finally, I threw the whole mess together—hot pasta, grated cheese, crumbled bacon, and garlic-spiced radish greens. By the time we'd gotten out forks and water glasses and plates, the roasted radishes were done too, and we sat down to a whole radish meal—and ate our way from tops to tails. It was easy, new, and delicious to boot.