April in Seattle is especially cruel. Last night as I stood at my kitchen sink scrubbing radishes, the pouring rain outside the window turned thicker and slushier. Large clumps of snow began to drift down like flower petals mixed with the rain. Then it hailed, then thunder cracked its whip and it rained again. That’s how it is this time of year, as we are poised on the cusp of spring, finely balanced and needing only to be tipped just ever so slightly, waiting to tumble into days that include some blue skies, a few daffodils, maybe even a hint of warmth.
Meanwhile, the farmer’s market is still full of winter root vegetables, but the first radishes of the year are up. Their unabashed rosy brightness is a promise of fresh spring produce to come. Their crisp, peppery bite is a tonic that livens up the most sluggish, winter-dulled palate.
When I first saw the recipe for roasted radishes in Bon Appetit Magazine, it seemed like an odd concept. Radishes are eaten in crispy raw slices, not cooked. But then I thought, why not? What are radishes but tiny root vegetables, after all? So I gave it a try last night. When the radishes were done, I plucked a trial bite out of the bowl. Then as I finished cooking the rest of my dinner, I kept coming back and taking another radish and another…
Just like any other root vegetable, roasting radishes enhances their flavor, coaxing out a previously unsuspected sweetness, which is further mellowed by a drizzle of browned butter and a sprinkle of salt. The radish tops are distinctly bitter, and can be omitted if not to your liking, but the occasional nibble of bitterness is an interesting and refreshing balance to the surprising mildness of the radishes.
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
- 2 bunches medium radishes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450°F. From two or three radishes, cut off all but 1/2 inch of green radish tops. Discard any yellowed leaves and rinse trimmed tops very well to remove all grit. Finely chop radish tops and set aside.
Cut tops and roots from radishes, then cut lengthwise in half and place in medium bowl. Add olive oil and toss thoroughly to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on a heavy duty baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more salt, if desired.
Melt butter in heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pinch of salt to skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.
Transfer roasted radishes to a serving bowl and drizzle with brown butter. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.