I am quite partial to a radish. I think there is something slightly comedy about their appearance, riotous cerise with white tails. I can’t say I have that many use’s for them, at least I didn’t until this June when the only thing growing in abundance are the radishes in our garden. Peter Rabbit would be thrilled! I am thrilled, if a little daunted by the quantity and the fact they all need eating NOW. That, I believe is always the dilemma with homegrown vegetables, how to regulate, and how not to have a glut, superfluous to man or beast.
I have no idea why 2013 has produced such a bumper crop. Previously they have been grown with only marginal success yet this year they are worthy on an outing to the village fete. We have 2 varieties, one the perfect round specimen and the other is the more random; slightly oddly shaped spherical one. Note the amateur gardener, no record of what was planted, what species or where the seeds came from, what a wolly! Never mind, back to the radish, neither are particularly hot, which in my eyes is a little sad, but both have a very satisfying crunch. Of course there is a hint of pepper but nothing like the horseradish hot that I have had on occasion. The obvious home for them is eaten raw and in salads, and to be honest why change that? They are surprisingly ‘good for you’ and extremely low in calories, that’s if you are counting. An astonishing 1 cup of sliced red radish equates to 20 calories!! Presumably by the time you have eaten them you have probably burnt off the calories consumed? Who knows, who cares! Added to which they have been in cultivation for hundreds of years, yes those savvy clever Romans ate them too.
In my quest to use up the harvest I have roasted them, pickled them, and eaten the large majority raw. The have been served whole, sliced wafer thin and quartered. They are pretty, pretty, pretty however you use them and I have to admit, have become a staple in every salad over the last few weeks. Jacob Kennedy in his cracking book ‘Boca’, has a stunning recipe that I posted about last year, ‘Raw’, which elevates the humble radish to a new height, thanks to lashings of truffle oil. But keeping it simple can also be equally successful, have a peek at the one below which packs a gorgeous summer punch of color, texture and flavour. Broad beans, shelled peas, radish, baby beetroot leaves and a very simply olive oil and lemon dressing, coupled with some freshly sliced mint, what is there not to like? Served alongside a barbecued shoulder of lamb the combination works magically. My apologies, I am not sure this is really worthy of a recipe but if you are looking for directions on quantities, see below:
Radish Salad with Broad beans, fresh peas and mint
500gms of broad beans
500gms of fresh peas in their pods
A handful of fresh mint
Several handfuls of baby beetroot leaves, picked from beetroot in the garden if you have!
Lemon and olive oil dressing – 1 lemon / olive oil
1. Pod the broad beans. Blanch them in a pan of boiling water and then plunge into cold water. Pod again, so you are left with the wicked green bean! Pod the fresh peas and mix with the beans. Wash the beet leaves and mint leaves and spin in a salad spinner. Now slice the mint leaves really finely or you could leave them whole. Wash the radishes and quarter.
2. To make the dressing add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 6 tablespoons of good olive oil, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk thoroughly and toss through the beans, peas and radishes. Scatter the mint and beet leaves on a plate and place the dressed radishes, beans and peas on top. Serve immediately.