Radishes can save the day, especially when the day is a scorcher and summer harvest is weeks away. Radishes are crisp and refreshing and you can eat your fill of them without worry, as a cup of sliced radishes contains a mere 17 calories. Eating lightly helps you stay cool.
Radishes are wonderful dipped in whole-milk yogurt or chopped and stirred into it for a fast radish raita, an Indian condiment typically served alongside curries and such but pretty good with almost any type of meat, poultry, seafood or grilled vegetable.
The best place to get radishes is at farmers markets and local farm stands, of course, in part because you're more likely to get radishes with pert, fresh greens from these sources. When you do, don't discard them. Instead, set them aside to use in green salads and in soups. If they are very fresh and not too large, you can also use them in the radish vinaigrette and radish salsa that follow here. Simply slice about a tablespoon or so very thin and stir them in with the other herbs.
My niece, who lives in Windsor, asked me about French Breakfast radishes the other day, especially about why she so often gets ones that are hollow and pithy inside.
It happens all the time. Even the best farmers have a few runaways, so to speak, that grow too fast, though it more often indicates a radish that has dried out from lack of water or poor post-harvest storage. One here and there is unavoidable, but if you get a bunch of radishes that are all hollow, you should return them or at least tell the farmer or, if from a market, the manager about them.
In recent weeks, there have been plenty of local radishes of all types, including daikon, at our local farmers markets. For more radish recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives, visit "Eat This Now" at <a href="http://pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com">pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com</a>.
This simple vinaigrette is especially good with seafood, from Oregon baby-shrimp salad to pan-seared scallops and grilled snapper and salmon. It is also lovely spooned over avocado.
Makes about 3/4 cup
<i>1 small shallot, minced
3 medium radishes, trimmed and minced
3 tablespoons best-quality white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
—Squeeze of lime juice, optional
—Black pepper in a mill
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
6 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil</i>
Put the shallot and radishes in a small bowl, season generously with salt and add the vinegar and lime juice, if using. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Add several turns of black pepper and the chives, stir in the olive oil, taste and correct for salt.
This dressing is best the same day it is made but it will last, covered and refrigerated, for a second day.
This radish salsa is a refreshing change from more traditional salsas, especially before tomato season kicks in. I love it with tacos and find it refreshing with chips and a cold beer, too.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
<i>1 large bunch radishes, preferably French Breakfast radishes, trimmed and cut into small dice