8.01.2012

For your trouble

There are certain foods out there that I sometimes think I’ve solved.  Peas, for example.  I’ve eaten them raw in salads, boiled and buttered, with mushrooms in pasta, pureed in soups, hot and cold.  I know how to eat them alongside schnitzel and fried fish, and how to press them into mashed potatoes with the back of my fork.  Sometimes I think I’ve done what can be done with them.  Of course, this is a dreadful way to think about food, as if it were a closed system with a finite number of variables and solutions to be “plugged and chugged,” as my middle school algebra teacher would say.  Food’s not like that at all.  Thank goodness for dinners out, and books, and blogs, and all of you to remind me of that, when need be.  (So, uh, anyone have a killer pea recipe to share?  I’m due for a new one, obviously.)

I also have radishes.  If peas come, batteries included, with a full color manual, radishes are more about feeling your way as you go.  At least that’s how they are, for me.  We’re all friends here, so I’m okay admitting that I’m not always sure what to do with them.  I will also admit that sometimes – only sometimes – I’m not even sure if I like them.  But all of this means that they keep me on my toes, and I do like that.  They’re pink, and crisp, and easy on the eyes, so they get points from me there.  And there are times when I really do like them so much, like in egg salad or – sparingly – in a chopped salad with sweet cucumbers and fennel.  It’s not always so clear, though.  A few summers ago, they started rolling in fast and furiously from our CSA, and soon we had a colony of radishes threatening to take over our crisper.  One night, I gathered all of them up, brushed them with olive oil, and roasted them in a very hot oven.  They wrinkled a little, and browned where they touched the pan, and mellowed in a way that was either delightful or disappointing – I couldn’t decide.  I’m equally ambivalent about radishes with butter and salt, that classic combination that, as I type this, has me salivating, yet I always end up sweating my way through them and partially relieved when they’re gone.  Shaved paper thin on a well-buttered slice of crusty bread is more my speed.  I should try to remember that.

So, radishes.  I’m still figuring them out.  What do you guys do with them, anyway?  I know I just tapped you for a pea recipe, but I hope you don’t mind my asking about radishes, too.  For the sake of fairness (and also for the sake of other important things, like your dinner plate) I can at least offer you a trade, here.  A recipe for the greens in exchange for your wisdom on what to do with the rest of the darn things – yes?  A radish leaf pesto for your trouble.


That you can whirr greens together with nuts and cheese and make a bang-up pesto isn’t news.  Still, I want to share this particular radish leaf pesto with you, because of the several recipes I’ve tried, this one gets it just right.  I usually like the nuts out front in a pesto, just a shoulder behind the greens.  But in this recipe, when the almonds all but disappear – an ounce of almonds is not very many almonds, and the ratio of almonds to cheese is 1:1 – it’s a very nice effect.  I think of the almond as one of the more distinctively flavored nuts in this world, so I was surprised by the way this pesto transforms them.  They duck behind the garlic and the lemon zest, and when they do peek out here and there, they’re practically unrecognizable.  Nutty and rich, to be sure, but mysteriously so.

The first time I made this pesto, we ate it on pasta, as people do.  A couple of nights later, it got late without us noticing, and even though it was only Monday, we were tired.  Neither of us felt like cooking, and so we poked around in the kitchen, as people also do, and came up with the remains of this pesto, a partially hardened baguette, and a small tub of marinated anchovies.  I hardly need to tell you the rest of the story.  We sawed through the baguette and slid it under the broiler; what happened next you can see for yourself in that photograph up there.  That was a few weeks ago, and the combination stuck.  The second batch of pesto we ate this way exclusively.  I’m behind it 100%.  

Radish Leaf Pesto
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

I used almonds here, as I mentioned, above, but Clotilde says that you can also try pistachios or pine nuts.  She suggests avoiding walnuts, which she finds too bitter in this recipe.  She also suggests storing the pesto under a thin layer of olive oil.  It’s a great tip for keeping the pesto beautifully green.  You can pour some of it off when you’re ready to serve it, and stir the rest of it in.

2 large handfuls of radish leaves, stems removed (I used the leaves from two bunches.)
1 ounce (30 grams) Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
1 ounce (30 grams) almonds, pistachios, or pine nuts
1 clove garlic, cut into a few pieces
Zest from half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more, until you reach the consistency you like
Salt and pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse into smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, when necessary.  Add more olive oil, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I store this pesto in a ramekin covered in plastic.

(I forgot to measure the yield.  Both times.  Sorry!  I’ll update here the next time I make this.) (You won’t have to wait long.)

35 comments:

Molly said...

When I was a little girl, radishes were "killer radishes" and it took a hot night in Jerusalem when I was 21 to change my tune.

I think this is my favorite thing to do with radishes: http://cheapbeets.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/stuck-in-my-head/ My friend Elissa was over for Friday night dinner and remarked, unprovoked, that she can't stop making it.

Also, no recipe for this, but last week's box gave us radishes and sugar snap peas. I sliced the radishes and sauteed everything in butter. Then I glazed them in some grapefruit juice. I think I would have gone for orange if I'd had it in the house. But the citrusy glaze on top of the peppery radish alongside the sweetness of the pea? It was a good meal.

emmycooks.com said...

I don't even know where to start. I love radishes but truly, my most favorite recent radish recipe also used the greens in a riff on rarebit: http://emmycooks.com/2012/06/01/green-tartine-or-radish-top-toast/. And I also like radish top soup, mostly because people aren't expecting it. And I look forward to trying this pesto. But I digress!

Like Molly above, I love crunchy radish roots in salads with feta; I usually make mine with lots of herbs and a mustardy dressing and agree that it's addictive: http://emmycooks.com/2012/05/01/green-salad-with-radishes-feta-and-fresh-herbs/ If you want to take a radish-y salad in a direction that will work with Mexican food, this version is great: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/06/29/chopped-salad-with-feta-lime-and-mint/

If you like the idea of radishes with butter and salt but the reality of it doesn't mellow the spice of the radishes enough for you, consider dramatically inverting the proportions and making a salty radish butter with a good quantity of fresh oregano and just the quantity of finely-diced radishes that you'll find enjoyable. Spread it on a crusty baguette and eat it in your back yard with a glass of white wine, of course.

If all else fails, stockpile the radishes as you have been, then braise them and slather them in miso butter a la this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Japanese-Turnips-with-Miso-354957 Anything is delicious drenched in miso butter.

Susan said...

Have you tried the White Bean Salad recipe in Michelle Obama's Garden book? It's a really tasty recipe with both radishes and peas. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/White-Bean-Salad-51103000

anya said...

Not so long ago I learnt radishes can be turned into soup -- never, never, never did I think of the two together -- and now I'm catching up good and proper. This one is lovely: http://www.godfulfood.blogspot.nl/2012/06/say-no-more.html

Lisa said...

Lovely... I hear you on the radishes ;) I just made (& blogged) radish leaf soup, having grown a HUGE basket and not wanting to "waste" the edible leaves. I'd say it was a success!

Love your entire blog... am linking back to it from my own & will be a frequent reader ;)

Rachel said...

I needed this recipe back when my CSA box was replete with radishes and their beautiful greens! I did make a pesto or sorts with them once but this one sounds fantastic!

Jen said...

Hi Jess... no idea what to do with the radishes but there was a recipe from Rao's on Barefoot Contessa a few weeks ago where they sauteed onions and pancetta, then added peas and chicken stock that looked really good....

Jess said...

You guys! Thank you, thank you for so many pea and radish (and pea-and-radish, together!) suggestions. I owe you one, at least. The radishes knocking around our crisper have it coming...

Molly - I wouldn't think that I'd be man enough for that radish salad (raw radishes and green onions?), but your friend Elissa's comment has me thinking that I should give it a try. Does the vinegar mellow the radishes a bit? I love the idea of radishes and sugar snap peas together. I've had them side by side in a salad before, and the sweet and the sharp together works beautifully. I had forgotten, so thank you. And sauteed, you say? I wonder if that might be a way to regulate how much bite I erase from the radishes, so that I can hold on to however much I can handle -- unlike with the roasting where it all but disappears.

emmycooks - Your site is a treasure trove of radish recipes! I feel like I hit the jackpot. Especially with that "Green Tartine." Brilliant! (And I love the name.) Thank you, thank you, for these terrific ideas, and for taking the time to assemble them for me, here. I appreciate it.

Susan - Look at that white bean salad! No, I hadn't seen it. Oooo, and I have just the beans in my pantry. Thank you.

Anya - You know, I saw that! And then completely forgot about it. (This is a terrible habit of mine.) Thank you so much for reminding me. I'll try it. Very curious to see what happens to the radish flavor, here.

Lisa - Hello, and welcome, and thanks for your cheers. Another soup, this one with the leaves! I like the sound of that. Off to your site now to have a look...

Rachel - I'm never exactly sure of when the radish season begins and ends. Will we not be getting anymore this year, you think? If not, next year, next year. (And you know, I imagine this pesto would work with other greens as well.)

Jen - Whoa. That sounds serious. I do love a good sauteed pea. Thanks for the tip.

J said...

Have you tried Francis Lam's stewed peas? http://www.salon.com/2010/05/28/cumin_ginger_stewed_peas/

foodlovefood said...

Oh the thought of fresh peas and crisp radish make me wish spring would hurry up and reach us down here at the bottom of the world! This recipe for radish pickle from Luisa could be one to try... http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/2011/06/melissa-roberts-quick-radish-pickles.html

Dana said...

Hi Jess! When it comes to radishes I like them plain and simple ready to be dipped in salt and beautifully displayed on a platter next to crunchy green onions, sliced ham, salty cheese, and hard-boiled eggs. And that’s usually on an Easter platter (that’s how we do it in Transylvania), which is never complete without radishes.

When it comes to peas, I usually like my grandma’s recipe. It’s a family recipe and the one I make most often. It’s a mixture of sweet, savory, creamy and fresh all in one dish:

http://simplyromanesco.blogspot.com/2011/11/vegetable-meat-and-pasta.html#SweetGreenPeas

Thank you Jess for another lovely post! :)

Jess said...

J - I haven't. But I've just read the recipe, and now I have no choice but to get right on it. ("...your friends will be like, "What's that flavor, son? Butter?" And you'll say, "No, it's pea."" No one writes a recipe like Francis.)

foodlovefood - Oh! I forgot about those. And I actually made them last year! Thank you.

Dana - Thank you for sharing your grandmother's recipe. I like parsley on peas, too! Oh, and I didn't know that radishes are a traditional Easter food. That platter sounds lovely.

Molly said...

Oh yes, for the radish and feta salad, I've decided to describe it in terms of a ceviche. The red wine vinegar is the acid and the radish plays the role of fish. (It helps if you love vinegar, but I think I remember reading you're a big fan.) And maybe try scallions instead of green onions? They are somewhat mellower than the pungent green stalks that came in our CSA a few weeks back.

The sauteeing is also a really nice way to take away that radish bite. I didn't do it at the time, but I think that the final step of that pea and radish citrus glaze would be a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It just sounds right to me.

There are some other salads that feature radishes on my blog, but that one with the feta salad seems to have a fan club.

shornrapunzel said...

For me, peas are best in pesto: a chunky, pine nut heavy version I spread on well oiled, broiled whole grain toast. It makes an excellent lunch, and I generally use Smitten Kitchen's quantities as a baseline but I don't thin the pesto out with water at all, sine I'm not tossing it with pasta. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/06/23/linguine-with-pea-pesto/
Radishes puzzle me too, though I agree that a finely chopped smattering in egg salad is delicious. Lately I have started adding them to potato salad as well: they queue up well with the similar crunch of celery and onion.
Also, just started following you recently and am really enjoying the ride so far!

- Chelsea

koshercamembert said...

Ok, Jess, so this isn't a technically a pea recipe. And by that, I mean it's not peas nor is it a recipe. But, have you tried pea shoots? I mean, seriously, they're the essence of peas without having to do anything to them. I throw them in salad with abandon, their curly tendrils poking out of the bowl.

Radishes, well, I can't really help you out with them.

Gayle

Jess said...

Molly - Sold! Thanks for all of your wise counsel. I'll report back.

shornrapunzel - Hi Chelsea, and welcome. So glad you like it here! I've never considered pea pesto - guess I missed that Smitten Kitchen post - but it sounds right up my alley. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. And potato salad - great idea! I'm just home from a week in Ohio with my family, and I was poking around in the fridge a few minutes ago to see what I might throw together for dinner. I saw a couple of boiled potatoes, eggs, radishes... I now know just what to do.

Gayle - Pea shoots - YES!! I love them. I'll never forget the first time I tasted them a few years ago. I couldn't get over their super-pea flavor.

Anonymous said...

For the radishes, add as one mashed up anchovies to the butter before spreading it on the bread and then add radish slices- small variation on the classic.

Hannah said...

Wow so many ideas!! One of my favorite radish-treatments is similar in spirit to Molly's 'ceviche' above, in that we love radishes that are quickly sweet-pickled (vinegar, sugar, salt, blanch them in a little hot water before jarring and dilute the vinegar/sugar mixture with about 50% water). Give them a day or two to mellow out in a jar in the fridge, and you might find them quite different! I also make a radish-green tartine, like emmy, but with a poached egg on top ...

As for peas - slightly mashed (or smashed) with mint, is fresh and simple. But have you ever tried them in a sauce of browned butter and a touch of cream? Also amazing on asparagus. This is the only way my husband's 90 year old grandpa, who was a farmer in PA, will eat peas. Yum.

Tracy said...

on baguette with marinated anchovies...be still my heart

china millman said...

Like Tracy, I think anchovies are a magical partner for radishes, but I like to make anchovy butter (Finely mince 2 to 3 anchovy filets, 2 tablespoons parsley and 1/2 preserved lemon, if you have it, then mix into 1 stick softened butter). Spread the anchovy butter on baguette, than top with sliced radishes.

Noelle Marie said...

Radish greens are not something I am usually attracted to but this pesto idea sound intriguing. Thank you for the inspiration.

Jess said...

Oh! I'm having so much fun reading all of your thoughts. Thank you all.

China and Anonymous - Why have I never made anchovy butter?? China, thanks for the recipe. I assume you use the tinned anchovies in oil or salt-packed anchovies for this, and not the marinated ones, is that right? Anchovy butter, anchovy butter... I can't wait.

Hannah - I do believe you have just gilded an already gilded lily with that poached egg. And you're at it again with those peas! Browned butter and cream? Your grandpa doesn't mess around.

Noelle Marie - I hope you'll enjoy it. (Just made it for dinner again tonight. I can't get enough!)

Oh, and that reminds me -- I measured the yield this time, and the recipe makes about half a cup. I'll add that in, above.

Off to bed now, to dream of radishes and peas, I'm sure. Good night, all!

Rogue Unicorn said...

Have you tried Ottolenghi's quinoa, broad bean and avocada salad? It calls for a good amount of radishes and is quite lovely. Also, I have, on occasion, taken some leftover roasted radishes and tossed them with pasta, lemon zest and pecorino. I thought it was pretty gosh darn good.
xo. Tiki

Jen said...

Hi Jess, me again.... I was cleaning out/going thru a bunch of old magazines and in Whole Living from May 2011 there were a bunch of pea recipes.... Pea and Potato Curry; Farro, Pea Shoot and Goat Cheese Salad; Pea Hummus

Here is the link.... hope you find some of them useful....

http://www.wholeliving.com/136437/healthy-pea-recipes/@center/136760/seasonal-foods#/133117

Jen said...

And one for Radishes....

http://www.wholeliving.com/136048/radish-recipes/@center/136760/seasonal-foods#/131343

alanachernila said...

Oh, Jess--radish butter! (Although I'm now reeling from this anchovy butter thing). It is made exactly as you would imagine it, but here it is anyway, with a little Wordsworth, too.
http://www.eatingfromthegroundup.com/2011/04/wordsworth-and-radish-butter/
xo, a

Jess said...

Hello, and happy Monday to you!

Tiki - I have not! No choice but to try it, obviously. And I like the idea of roasted radishes in pasta. Thank you!

Jen - Thank you for so diligently staying on the case! What beautiful slide shows over at Whole Living. That farro salad looks especially promising to me. And pea hummus? Brilliant. On the radish end, it looks like putting them in salads and sandwiches is a favorite over there. (For me, too.)

alana - YES. (Thank you.) xo.

Evelien Rutten said...

I discovered a wonderful dipping sauce for tempura. Soak a handful of dried wild mushrooms in lukewarm water. Use this water and mix it with light soy sauce and mirin (to your own taste). Bring it to a boil and take it off the heat. Chop a handful of radishes, some spring onions, ginger and Spanish pepper and mix in a bowl. Pour the boiled liquid over the vegetables and let it cool.
Evelien

Evelien Rutten said...

You can use peas instead of avocado to make a wonderful guacamole!
Evelien

Jess said...

And the brilliant ideas keep rolling in!

Thanks, Evelien, for these suggestions.

Hannah said...

oh my goodness this sounds so good!

meg said...

This year we made a really delicious and super easy pickle involving radishes and carrots. We shaved them super thin using our trusty food processor, then pickled them in a very simple vinegar-sugar mixture. They've been superb on everything from barbecued pork to banh mi. I think the recipe was from Food In Jars, but don't quote me on that.

Jess said...

Meg - Sounds like a combination pickle-slaw. Love it! (Was it this recipe, by any chance?)

Jen @ Savory Simple said...

I've always just thrown them in salads without contemplating other options. Now you've got me thinking!

clotilde said...

So glad you've adopted this recipe, Amandine! ^_^