by Alison Charbonneau
A lot of people I have spoken to are pretty down on the radish or are, at best, neutral on them. I can’t blame them. The reputation of the radish, as the sad veggie tray leftover, is fairly pervasive. Don’t get me wrong, some people really love them and their tangy bite. Like my dad, for example, who quite enjoys them; Not generally a big veggie eater he will always go for a radish (heavily covered in salt) when offered.
But I get it; I can't say I am desperately anticipating the arrival of the radish crop myself. What do you do with them? I mean, the radish is a lovely little vegetable with its crispy texture and slightly peppery taste. It can add a bit of colour to a vegetable plate or a little extra crunch to a salad, but that’s about it…isn’t it?
Buy firm, brightly coloured radishes.
As it is still early in the growing season and the vegetable variety is a little thin, I decided to see what else the radish could do. I came across the idea of roasting radishes just like you would any other root vegetable and they turned out kind of like potatoes in taste and appearance. Roasting the radish transitioned them from crispy and spicy, to tender and mellow. Maybe I haven't given the radish a real chance. To remedy that, and see what else I could so with these little pinky-red gems, I reached out to Randy Felker, Executive Chef at the Saugeen Golf Club, to give me some new ideas.
"At the golf course we are currently using pickled radish in a spring salad” Randy told me. “But for something a little more unexpected, I enjoy doing a pesto (recipe below) with the tops or pickling the radish with ramps and asparagus in a sweeter liquid, which works well with the natural pepper flavour of the radish."
Speaking of it’s peppery taste, I asked Randy how to use radish so that it's flavour doesn't end up overpowering the entire dish. He suggested using the radish sparingly as the easiest way to ensure that the radish's intense flavour doesn't overpower everything else, and to "be careful when adding black pepper."
Randy went on to suggest some flavours that work well with radish such as rosemary and citrus, "I really enjoy roasting radish with rosemary and butter or preparing radish using a fine cut for a salad."
No longer should the radish be relegated to the veggie tray alone – get creative! Roast them, pickle them, sauté them or even grill them. Whatever you do, we have lots of radishes for you to enjoy at Hi-Berry Farm.
Radish Green Pesto
1-2 cloves garlic
6 cups loosely pack radish tops
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of kosher salt T.T.
Pulse garlic then add radish tops, spinach and sunflower seeds, blend in food processor with olive oil until mixture is combined, then add Parmesan and blend until desired consistency.
Water can be added to thin out mixture if wanted. Add pinch of salt if needed.
Photography by Jill Schildroth
Recipe by Chef Randy Felker