Loving Local Radishes

By Ali Waks Adams

To love a radish is to understand both its depth of flavor and its depth of texture. When you understand those two things, your eyes are open to its beauty, variety, and utility.

A breakfast of good, buttered bread and radishes is gentile. Layer radishes with cream cheese and scallions on a bagel with smoked fish, and wonder why, why, has it taken so long for me to fall in love with this bold combination?

Add slices to tacos, enchiladas, braised meats, butter-roasted fish, cheesy casseroles just before serving for a crunchy counterpoint. Schmear halved radishes them with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt, Japanese sesame salt, or dukkah to impress unexpected guests. Dip them into hummus, savory yoghurt or ranch dressing, when the mood strikes. Place them, with a few tender leaves still attached into a naked space on the charcuterie board. Add their spicy crunch into any noodle, rice or grain bowl. Or into any sandwich, but definitely into a ham and cheese sandwich.

To cook with radishes, to morph them from crunchy and spicy to mellow and juicy, go bold. They fancy fat: butter, olive oil, duck fat, chicken fat. They love garlic, soy sauce, honey, anchovies, black pepper, smoke, acid, herbs and spice. My favorite roasted radish combination includes butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies. I slather the finished production grilled bread and sip cold rosé. Radishes and rosé are meant for each other.

To store fresh radishes with their greens (a lovely addition to a salad or stir fry) wrap them in a clean damp cloth from stem to leaf, place them in a sturdy bowl, filled with just enough water to cover the bulbs with cold water. Change the water often, so they are in great condition for when you are ready to show them some love.