The tastes of summer for me are radishes served icy cold with a side of soft sweet butter for swiping, a sprinkle of coarse salt, and a glass of chilled white wine. Peppery, snappy and juicy, radishes are just the thing to wake heat-weary appetites as the sun sinks and evening softens.
Radishes in all their pink, purple, red and white glory are filling our market stalls. I prefer the slender, magenta French breakfast variety with pretty white shoulders and a lovely sweet heat. If you’re like me and have overloaded your baskets with the many different options, here’s how to enjoy them through the week.
Radishes and sweet butter on rye: Whip together one stick softened unsalted butter and ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Spread this in a thick layer over eight slices of rye, whole grain or baguette. Top with thinly sliced radishes (about 12 regular radishes or 24 French breakfast radishes). Sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.
Quick ginger pickle: Cut a bunch of radishes into wedges; in a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and ½ teaspoon coarse salt or more to taste. Stir in 1 tablespoon of very thin slices of fresh, peeled ginger. Add the radishes, place in a covered container and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. These can be stored chilled for up to 3 weeks.
Slaw: Add shredded radishes to your favorite coleslaw recipe, for color and flavor.
Radish raita: Stir together 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, 1 smashed garlic clove, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, and one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in ½ cup shredded radishes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Great with toasted pita, chips, or over grilled chicken and fish.
Grilled radishes: Slice large radishes in half and toss with a little vegetable oil to coat and sprinkle with coarse salt. Grill the radishes over a medium-hot fire until tender, about 2 to 4 minutes, turning often. Serve on top of grilled steak.
Though the above are all good options, the best approach to too many radishes is PDQ salsa with a mass of cilantro and mint, and plenty of lime juice to temper their heat.
So hold off on the tomato salsa until our local produce is in the market. Turn to radish salsa instead. It brings so much punch you can cut back on the amount of jalapeño and bump up the lime.
The bright red and green salsa perks nachos and tacos filled with black beans, and gives the beans’ creamy earthiness a good kick. Try this salsa on grilled steak, spooned over scrambled eggs or folded into chicken salad. It’s the perfect match to mashed avocado and chips. Just in time for summer fun.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.