Radishes Redeemed: Braised & Sautéed

May 10, 2010

(The radish is) a vulgar article of the diet…that has a…remarkable power of causing flatulence and eructation.
~Pliny the Elder

Native to Asia, radishes (Raphanus sativus) are more than edible root vegetables of the Brassicaceae family. They have a lengthy culinary history, even serving as a staple to ancient Egytian slaves. The common name derives from the the Latin word radix which means “root.” Displaying an array of shapes and colors—red, pink, black, yellow, purple, white—they are related to broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, and brussels sprouts. That distinctive tangy radish flavor results from the mustard oil found in these cruciferous vegetables.

Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is a cancer preventing antioxidant. They are also a significant source of folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, iron, and calcium.

Sometimes we fall short in the kitchen by failing to recognize a food’s mutability. While they are so often relegated to life in a raw state, radishes are radiant when braised, sautéed, seared or roasted. So, liberate them. As with most roots, this often overlooked and forgotten vegetable becomes kind, even mellow, when cooked.

BRAISED RADISHES

2 bunches icicle or red radishes, washed, tops and tails trimmed
3 T unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, peeled and diced
2 thyme sprigs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T honey
Water, to cover

1 T unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

So they are all nearly uniform in size and cook evenly, cut larger red radishes lengthwise.

In a heavy pan melt butter over medium high heat. Add shallots and thyme, and sauté, occasionally stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add radishes, salt and pepper, honey and just enough water to cover radishes. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until tender when pierced by a paring knife, about 15 minutes.

Remove radishes to a serving dish and discard thyme sprigs. Increase heat and boil braising liquid down until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Whisk in remaining butter, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour over radishes.

SAUTEED RADISHES

2 bunches red radishes, washed, tops and tails trimmed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 T unsalted butter
4 high quality anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
Pinch or two red pepper flakes

Artisanal bread, sliced on the diagonal, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and toasted, sautéed or grilled
Chopped herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, rosemary, or thyme

So they are all nearly uniform in size and cook evenly, cut larger radishes lengthwise.

Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking or browning. Add radishes in a single, uncrowded layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook radishes, without moving them, until they are lightly colored on the underbelly, about 3 minutes. Stir with a spatula and continue cooking until tender when pierced by a paring knife, about 3 more minutes.

In a medium heavy skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in anchovies, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat and simmer until coalesced into a sauce, about 5 minutes.

Top each slice of bread with several radishes. Spoon sauce on top, sprinkle with herbs and serve.

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