Often overlooked and out-shined by the likes of fava beans and fiddleheads, the lowly radish has been almost taken for granted… until recently. Slowly and steadily they have been making a comeback.
Growing up, there was mainly only one kind of radish available; the red round Cherry Belle. And only one way to eat them; raw. No wonder we lost interest. But today there are numerous varieties available in assorted shapes, colors, sizes and intensity. Heirloom varieties have become especially popular like the French Breakfast Radish with its elongated scarlet body and white base, the mild tasting White Globe, the crisp White Icicle and the beautiful Purple Plum.
There also are a variety of ways to prepare them, although I must admit, I do like them best raw. But as a second alternative, grilling them gives them a unique twist while preserving all of their goodness. There are many people who, like Brian, don’t really care for raw radishes (gasp!). But he eats them grilled, and actually enjoys them. To him, they become more palatable and less intense. You could also try roasting them in the oven with a little salt pepper and olive oil, sautéing them or even braising them.
If you are unfamiliar with Tolsoy Farms, they offer certified organic produce and have been around since the 60’s. They have a great program called CSA which allows you to receive one box of certified organic produce per week, for 17 weeks, for a flat rate. (See details on their website.)
Tim Pellow from Tolstoy Farms is one reason you should visit the Spokane Farmers Market. Tim has been up at Tolstoy growing produce for the last 18 years. If you haven’t noticed, farmers are truly a special breed. The salt of the earth. Perhaps it is from years of being outside, having their hands in the earth which shapes and grounds them. Or from doing years of honest hard work and knowing their purpose. Being able to witness the growth of something they helped create through their care and nurturing must feel so fulfilling. What strikes me most about Tim is his gentleness. Not only in the careful way he handles the produce he grows, but in his presence. Somehow I feel almost blessed after spending a few minutes with him. Meeting and talking with the people who grow our food creates a mindfulness around cooking and eating. It makes the whole process more meaningful.
Tolstoy had four different varieties; white globe, cherry belle, purple plum and a long red icicle.
For this easy side dish, prep your radishes by washing them, trimming them and cutting them so they are roughly around the same size (so they cook at the same speed). Some were larger and I quartered them, some were tiny and I left them whole, others were just halved.
I am a huge fan of grilling vidalia onions (sweet onions). The grill brings out even more of their sweetness. You could easily leave it out, but if you like onions, give it a try. Just slice them 1/3 in rounds. I also included some green beans, which, again you could leave out, or substitute snap peas or asparagus instead.
Toss each with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I like to keep them separate because grill times can vary.
Use a grill pan to keep smaller items from falling through the grill grate.
Grill on medium heat, covered, stirring every 4 minutes or so for about 10-12 minutes. Keeping the vegetables separated on the grill allows you to remove something that has cooked faster, while leaving something else to cook a little longer. If your beans are thick, they may take a little longer. You could also quickly blanch them in salted water before grilling if you prefer them to be very tender.
Make a simple Tarragon Vinaigrette. Toss your grilled radishes, sweet vidalia onions and green beans in the vinaigrette and serve warm. This makes a great vegetable side dish to accompany what ever protein you are serving.
These are the left over radish tops.
When you purchase radishes from the farmers market, the tops are nice and fresh. My friend Tonia likes to sauté them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a splash of white balsamic. I will have to try this. You could also include them in a salad, a pasta dish, a soup, or even in lasagna instead of using spinach. Here is recipe for Radish Top Pesto that also looks good. The great thing about the tops is that are exceptionally high in vitamin C, iron and other nutrients, even more so than the radish itself.
As I am writing this post this morning, Brian sits next to me on the couch. Mornings around here are quiet. We sit, read, drink coffee, wake up to the day slowly, gazing out the front window, noting the progress of the trees. Rarely, if ever, does Brian find a quote that he deems important enough to require reading out loud, let alone share with me. But this morning, he says, Sylvia, listen to this! I do, mostly because I am so shocked that he has spoken. Like I said, mornings are really quiet.
― Edward Abbey
Take a break, go outside, take a deep breath and look at the clear blue sky.
The Spokane Farmers market is going on right now until 1pm.
A great way to spend your lunch hour.
Grilled Radishes with Sweet Vidalia Onions, Green beans and Tarragon
(Serves 4 as a vegetable side dish)
Preheat your grill (med)
3-4 C radishes, cleaned, trimmed and cut to similar size
1-2 C green beans, trimmed.
1 vidalia onion sliced in 1/3 inch round disks
Toss each in separate bowls with drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper
Grill on preheated grill – MED heat, covered for 10-12 minutes, turning every 4 minutes or so until onions and green beans are tender. I used a grill pan to prevent pieces from falling in-between the grates.
In the mean time, make the dressing.
1/8 C olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1/3 C Fresh Tarragon or more for garnish
1/8 C chopped Scallions
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds ( optional)
Remove veggies from the grill and place in a bowl. Toss with dressing and serve warm.
You could place on a platter and springing with more tarragon.
This will also be good cold, the next day.