The Classics are named so because they are delicious and do not need to be changed. My favorite example is today’s blog star: radishes with butter and salt. Can’t get more basic than that; however, the combination somehow transfigures the radish from a fiery orb into a delicious crunchy snack. I’m not sure when exactly I came across this combination, whether in a class in culinary school, a food and wine event or at the fancy French restaurant in downtown Omaha, but it changed my thinking about radishes.
My Uncle would grow them in his garden along with green onions and we would just eat them out of hand, after cleaning them off. My mother-in-law would slice them and add them to a cucumber salad with vinegar, water, and salt. I liked that option even better than just eating them whole. I think it was because I just never ate anything spicier than mustard growing up and wasn’t used to any heat on my tongue, so it just took some getting used to. I’m glad to report that I am now eating jalapeños, things with horseradish, and occasionally some wasabi. But, I digress, radishes…fresh and spicy with a bite to them, but with butter, it cuts that horseradish burn and just gives you the lovely watery crunch with just a little radish burn and then the salt just adds dimension.
Another way to enjoy radishes without their burn is to roast them like potatoes or beets. It softens the crunchy texture, but are not mushy and completely mellows the heat. I urge you to try radishes both ways and have your mind blown.
Tip* The best way to buy radishes is with their tops still on them that way if the greens are wilted and not a vibrant color of green, they are not fresh and will not be as juicy as fresher ones. Use those to roast.*
Slice the tops and bottoms off after washing them. Use soft real butter, not margarine, not even close. When eating simple food you need the best ingredients possible, because there is nothing to mask the imperfections. So real butter, salted or unsalted doesn’t matter in this instance because we will be adding our own salt, which should be slightly bigger granules. If you have a salt grinder that’s perfect; if not use kosher salt. If you only have table salt and margarine try it anyway I’m pretty sure the fat in the margarine will still do the job.
For roasting these babies: 400F on a lined sheet pan. A single layer of oiled and salted radishes that have been washed, topped and tailed. Cook starting about 15 minutes, you will have to check for doneness with a knife inserted easily into the thickest part. Some radishes nowadays look like they have been taking steroids, so depending on the size of your radishes 15-30 minutes, and it’s helpful if they are close in size so if you have small and giant radishes cut the larger ones in halves or even quarters.