Warm radish slaw
Oh, radishes. You lovely, under-appreciated, first harbingers of Spring. Pink, red, and purple in a soft sea of greens.
Few other vegetables elicit such confused stares as the radish. Sometimes hot, usually peppery, always crunchy, folks just don’t seem to know what to do with the radish, other than chop it up in a salad.
Let me help. I will try not to overwhelm this blog with radish recipes, but as the first of my own crop will be ready to pull in a week or so — I’m growing three varieties this year, French Breakfast, Pink Beauty, and Watermelon (a really cool inside-out radish, where the exterior is white and green, and the interior is neon pink) — you can expect to see more on this subject.
This past weekend kicked off the new season of my neighborhood’s farmers’ market — a happy day, for sure. Mostly greens at this point, a small basket of bright pink caught my eye: adorable baby radishes.
I bought them all.
Also for sale from the same farmer were baby Japanese turnips (the white root in the photo above), which I’ve never had before. Almost too cute to eat — almost — they were crunchy and sweet. I hope there’s more next week.
Did you know that radish greens are entirely edible? Gently peppery, similar to their root, they’re more than welcome in a salad of mixed greens (use as you would arugula).
Like most greens, radish greens are best when young and fresh — a hard find at the supermarket (in fact, the bundles of radishes at the grocery this weekend had greens that were already wilted and yellowing — entirely unappetizing). I encourage everyone to seek out a farmers’ market or CSA and buy directly from the farmer, who will have pulled their radishes at their young peaks — not weeks prior for shipping, but rather just the evening before market.
Speaking of fresh greens, along with my radish and turnip purchases, I couldn’t resist a bagful of tender mesclun mix. The first baby greens of spring are always extra special: crisp and bright, salad lovers could eat them out of hand from the bag, no dressing necessary.
Farm fresh radishes need little help to be wonderful, but to temper their bite, a gentle heating tames their peppery ways (much like cooking onions removes their tear-inducing rawness). Paired with warm (but still crunchy) cabbage and baby cucumbers, and liberally flecked with fresh herbs, this radish slaw is a delightful side dish to your spring dinner.
It’s also quite delicious as cold leftovers — marinated in the tangy dressing, the flavor morphs to a sharper edge, as one expects from vinaigrette-based slaw.
Warm radish slaw
- for the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- for the slaw:
- 1 scant tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small head cabbage, grated (or thinly sliced and chopped)
- 16 radishes (about 1/2 pound), sliced julienne
- 1 small cucumber, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- kosher salt
- Prepare the dressing: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl (don’t worry if it doesn’t fully emulsify). Set aside.
- Prepare the slaw: Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat. When warm, swirl the oil in the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Add the grated cabbage to the pan and top with a pinch of kosher salt. If there’s a sizzle, turn down the heat a bit further — you want to wilt the slaw, not cook it through. Stir for a minute or two — the cabbage should start to slightly soften. Add the radishes, plus another pinch of salt, and continue stirring for a few more minutes.
- When the radishes begin to turn translucent, spoon the cabbage/radish mixture into a large mixing bowl (the vegetables will have given off some liquid — try and leave that behind in the pan). Toss with most of the dill and cilantro (reserving a few pinches for plating). Add the cucumber slices and gently fold them into the slaw. The veggies should be well-flecked with herbs.
- Pour about half of the dressing over the slaw and stir gently to mix. For an elegant presentation, spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining herbs. Serve the remaining dressing on the side, to add as each person desires.