Thursday, September 10, 2009

Veggie Might: I Love Radishes

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

First things first, Kris, you deserve some big love for your massive tomato undertaking. Kudos, fine lady. You are an inspiration. Also, I’m free most weekends for supper if you need help with that. (Thanks, Leigh! - Kris)

Now on with the show...

Radishes don’t get a lot of love, confused as they often are, along with parsley, as garnish. But radishes are little peppery, crunchy pods of joy.

This summer I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of radishes, discovering French breakfast radishes for the first time, and enjoying good, old, regular red ones.

Unfortunately, some of my experiments have been less than successful. For instance, my attempt at veganizing Chilled Radish Buttermilk Soup (from Gourmet via Epicurious) by adding vinegar to soymilk still hasn’t quite worked. (The trick works great in baking.) I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s my favorite among the recipes I’ve tried: a delight from a May issue of New York magazine called Kyle Bailey’s Butter-Poached Radishes. (Who knew NY Mag would become a regular recipe source?)

The recipe calls for French breakfast radishes, which have a slightly sweeter flavor. But I found it works just as well with the more readily available red radishes as well. When choosing a bunch, go with longer radishes, as opposed to rounder, if possible.

If it sounds rich, it is. The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter for just 3/4 pound of radishes. Wow.

But, never fear, Dear Reader, the dish has been sufficiently and deliciously CHGified. And veganized, if you use vegan margarine like I did. (Sorry, Julia Child.) You’ll never miss those extra 2 tablespoons.

Poached radishes are surprisingly sweet, even the regular ones. I substituted white wine vinegar for the raspberry version called for (it’s what I had), thinking I may need to add sugar for the desired effect. No siree. Tangy, sweet, and with a hint of licorice from the tarragon, the radishes are a perfect complement to greens or a summer salad.

I made this dish twice, once with fresh tarragon and once with dried (pictured). Go with fresh if you possibly can. The flavor is so much livelier.

Radishes will be in season for just a bit longer, so grab a bunch while you can. They’re not just pretty to look at. They are delicious for eating and being surprised that you too love radishes.

Pods of Joy with Tarragon
adapted from Kyle Bailey’s Butter-Poached Radishes
serves 3

1 bunch radishes (3/4–1 lb), French breakfast radishes or red radishes (pictured)
1 tbsp unsalted butter or vegan margarine
3 dashes white wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Remove greens and ends, and slice radishes lengthwise into quarters.

2) Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in a skillet.

3) Toss in the chopped radishes and add a dash of salt and pepper.

4) Sauté over low-medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.

5) Add white wine vinegar and sauté another minute until the radishes turn bright pink.

6) Add vegetable stock and remaining butter. Cook for another minute to glaze the radishes.

7) Remove from heat and add fresh torn tarragon leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.

8) Serve as a side dish and marvel at just how much you love radishes.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
Per serving: 43.7 calories, 3.67g fat, $0.44

1 bunch radishes: 26 calories, 0g fat, $1.00
1 tbsp vegan margarine: 100 cal, 11 fat, $.12
3 dashes white wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $.10
1/4 cup vegetable stock: 5 calories, 0g fat, $.05
2 tsp fresh tarragon: negligible calories and fat, $.04
Salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 131 calories, 11g fat, $1.33
Per serving: 43.7 calories, 3.67g fat, $0.44

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