Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Relish the Radish

Photos by Lynn Schweikart  © 2016

I used to think there was no better way to savor a radish than on a fresh baguette slathered with French butter. Even better if eaten "sur un pique-nique", in a Parisian park. Then I found this recipe for a radish salad -- so simple to prepare, yet so delicious! The past few weeks, the Wake Robin Farm stand at the Portsmouth Farmers' Market has been tempting me with bunches of jewel-like radishes.  So it was an "occasion fortuntate" to enjoy this recipe again. 

I had come across it in a July 2003 New York Time article by Mark Bittman (Mark, I miss you, please, enough with this "entrepreneurial" detour -- come back to writing your Minimalist food columns!) I liked the combination of fruit juices, piquant chili pepper, and herbs. I liked how easy it was to prepare. Most of all, I liked how it took radishes from the supporting role they play in most salads, and gave them the starring role! 

The salad takes about 20 minutes to prepare, but for 15 of those minutes, you do nothing while the radishes take a salt-water bath!

RADISH SALAD ala Mark Bittman (Serves 4)
About 12 radishes, thinly sliced  (Bittman recommends using mandolin, but I just used a sharp knife.) 
1 tablespoon salt (I used kosher)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
Ground Urfa pepper or other mild chilies to taste (Bittman says this is optional, but I love the rich, smoky taste of Urfa, with its hint of heat. I also think its deep maroon color adds a nice visual interest.)
2 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro.  (I used a combination of both -- why not?)

1. Combine radishes with salt, and cover with water in a bowl. Let sit 15 minutes. Drain, and rinse.
2. Meanwhile, stir together the pepper and fruit juices.
3. Toss radishes with dressing and chilies. Taste. Add more salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.

4. Garnish with the herbs, and serve.