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Relishing the radish in fresh recipes

French breakfast radishes, right, are different in shape and taste than more common radishes.

KAREN PRYSLOPSKI | Times

French breakfast radishes, right, are different in shape and taste than more common radishes.

The obsession began while watching bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain swooning over an open-faced sandwich made with crusty bread, a smear of butter and sliced radishes.

This man is a hard-core meat-eater. He eats anything with a face, and usually his favorite parts are the face, liver, heart, feet. You get my point.

Anyway, I am watching him on No Reservations (10 p.m. Mondays, Travel Channel) and he's loving the simplicity of this sandwich. With a glass of wine, of course.

Within weeks I come across two radish recipes in different cooking magazines: a simple cucumber and radish salad and another for roasted radishes. I am intrigued, but can't get motivated by the sad little plastic packages of radishes at the grocery story.

Then I see them. Beautiful bundles of fresh-picked radishes at Worden Farm's stall at St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market. Two different kinds and both with their green tops, roots and a bit of dirt still attached. One is the very round, very red variety that I suspect was in that plastic bag at the grocery. Lots of heat in those radishes.

The other is a delicate pink, elongated version. I learn they are called French breakfast radishes. I buy each for $2 a bundle and take them home to experiment. I do this for three weeks straight.

I make the Cucumber Salad With Radish and Dill from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. A perfect accompaniment to grilled salmon, but it does not keep. Make it and eat it within a few hours. It looked old, sad and tired the next day.

I am skeptical of the roasted radish recipe from Saveur. Since the little crucifers are mostly water, I fear they will fall apart or just implode in a heap. But they don't and the roasting makes them soft and subtle. No heat left, just a bit of earthiness, almost like a beet but not as dense. (The recipe calls for an assortment of radishes, even purple ones. I stick to the two I can find.)

I come up with a radish spread that combines cream cheese and goat cheese with the radishes and other veggies I have in the fridge. This keeps for days and we spread it on crackers and bagels.

Then I try the sandwich, the one that Bourdain loved so much. The baguette slice, smear of butter, thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of coarse salt. I swoon, too.

Karen Pryslopski can be reached at kpryslopski@sptimes.com.

>>EASy

Cucumber Salad With Radish and Dill

1 English cucumber or 3 Kirby cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded, thinly sliced

4 large radishes (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus more sprigs, torn, for garnish

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 garlic clove, crushed with the flat side of a large knife

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

Put cucumber, radish and lemon zest in a medium bowl and add cheese.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, dill, sugar and garlic in another medium bowl, whisking until sugar has dissolved; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified.

Add vinaigrette to cucumber mixture; toss well. Garnish with dill. Discard garlic clove before serving. Refrigerate salad in an airtight container up to 1 hour.

Source: Marthastewart.com

>>EASy

Roasted Radishes

3 bunches assorted radishes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 sprigs fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Trim radish greens. Wash radishes, pat dry and transfer to a large bowl with oil and thyme. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Put radishes into a shallow baking dish and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and a small knife slides easily into radishes, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

Source: Saveur

>>EASy

Creamy Vegetable Spread

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

4 ounces goat cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup chopped radishes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Serve on bagels, toast or crackers.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Source: Karen Pryslopski, St. Petersburg Times

Relishing the radish in fresh recipes 03/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 3:30am]

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