Being the underdog… and the humble radish
by Chef Deb Traylor
Today I’d like to talk about the produce aisle’s most overlooked vegetable, the humble radish, and the beauty of being an underdog.
We’ve all had those moments where we’ve overlooked something, or someone. It’s not that there is anything wrong with this particular something, it just “other somethings” capture our attention. We can go on our merry way for a long time until the fateful day when, for no particular reason whatsoever, we take a better look at what’s in front of us. This is where I gently remind you of the humble radish :-).
I can say without a doubt I’ve been the proverbial “underdog” most of my culinary career and, frankly, I am okay with this. In fact, I’ve probably been personally instrumental in keeping this moniker in place. On one hand I crave recognition for my efforts as a chef (what Southern woman doesn’t love to hear she’s a good cook?), but on the other hand, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in quietly exceeding expectations. Which brings me to the unsung charm of the resourceful radish.
Radishes are not as celebrated as kale, tomatoes or cauliflower and I believe they should be! Most people will buy them to add color or fill a space on a crudité platter, or they might even be a little adventurous and sauté them with butter, but that’s usually as far as people go. Let me ask you… have you ever used the radish greens in a salad or a soup? Have you pickled the gorgeous little roots? Did you know you could eat the radish blossoms? How about the young tender seedpods?? You can eat them raw, slice and sauté them in olive oil, or make a quick pickle for a picnic! Radishes are so much more than little pink and green bundles you throw in a crisper and forget about, they really are the underdogs of the produce aisle whose potential goes way beyond the ordinary. Maybe it’s time to rethink radishes and experiment a bit!
From the kitchens of Ginger and Baker we’d like to offer you these super simple, yet surprisingly delicious recipes using one of our favorite vegetables! Radish greens give this soup it’s lovely green color and peppery, summery flavor. Plus it uses every bit of the radish! Pair the soup with luscious, crunchy radish butter crostini and a glass of chilled wine and you have a perfect summer supper.
Radish Greens Soup & Radish Butter Crostini
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 4 cups raw radish greens (about 2-3 bunches)
- 6 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 5 radishes, chopped
- salt and pepper
- lemon juice, optional
- fresh dill sprigs, chopped radish and radish blossoms, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add potatoes and water/stock and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add radish greens and cook for 5 more minutes. Allow the soup mixture to cool slightly, and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill overnight. To serve, stir in the buttermilk, then season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with dill, radishes, blossoms and crostini. Serves 6-8.
Radish Butter & Salt Crostini
- 6-8 radishes, chopped
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 tsp. fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt (we like Maldon)
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 baguette or rustic loaf, sliced and toasted
Combine radish and butter with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Or for vibrant pink color combine radish, butter, salt and pepper in a food processor and mix briefly. To serve, spread radish butter over toasted baguette slices and sprinkle with remaining salt.