Contrary to the weather outside my window right now, spring is over. This means the time of the radish is coming to an end. Sure, you can buy them all year. They even look good in February, but let me assure you the radish is best in spring. Its the most tender, crunchy and gently flavoured in the beginning of the growing season and I get practically giddy when I see it in the markets in May. But the truth is, to everything a season... It's almost time to say goodbye, beautiful, red kissed, peppery, crunchy bit of earth... But don't despair, while its always sad to see the end of the season for a fruit or vegetables, the good news is that at this time of year that also means the beginning of something perhaps even more glorious. Hello pattipan squash, Bing cherries and green beans! But, I will admit, it does get me a little down, so I'm sharing this new salad I've been making in honour of one of my most beloved spring arrivals. In these next couple weeks they will be plentiful in my crisper before taking a more supporting role to more glamorous market stars.
Radishes with butter is a classic French before dinner snack and certainly my favourite way to enjoy them. Crisp, peppery radishes, creamy, salty butter, a piece of country bread. Frankly, there's not much to improve up on here. This recipe features them in all their glory and kisses them with the butter they love, along with olive oil and chives. Tender salad turnips are like family to the radish, so I've included them as well. For this dish French Breakfast Radishes are your best bet for their gentle flavour, but if all you have is classic Easter egg radishes, go for it. Please, do try this NOW. It comes together in moments and looks oh so pretty on the table. Reminiscent of the Italian raw
vegetable dip, Bagna Cauda, this
is a cinch to make.
Radishes with Buttery Dressing
serves 4 side salads
1 heaping cup French Breakfast Radishes, trimmed
1 heaping cup Baby Salad Turnips, trimmed, or double radishes
1 Tbsp boiling water
3 Tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp good quality olive oil
3 tsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
salt and white pepper
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Chives, minced
Finishing salt, such as Fleur de sel
Wash radishes and then dry them well. Cut in half lengthwise. Lay on a plate or shallow salad bowl. If possible let them come to room temperature. This will help the dressing from hardening.
Pour boiling water over butter and whisk until melted. If necessary put in microwave for barely a moment or leave near a warm burner to further warm the butter. Whisk in olive oil, lemon zest, white pepper and salt to taste. Once everything is well mixed taste again and adjust if desired.
Shortly before serving, drizzle dressing over radishes, conservatively, serving leftover dressing at the table. Sprinkle on minced chives and a sprinkling of course salt, such as Fleur de sel. Leftover dressing can be store in the fridge and heated gently to melt. Can be used to toss into pasta or even lightly saute vegetables.
The simplicity of this salad calls for the best that you have. If you've been saving a special bottle of olive oil, or have some really great butter on hand, this is the time to break them out.