PHOTO: Karista Bennett
Growing up on a small farm, my mom grew a bumper crop of radishes every year. I remember thinking how beautiful the small red and pink globes looked sitting atop a garden salad or sliced with mandarin oranges over fresh greens and then drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette. Even then I was drawn to the color and spicy intrigue of radishes.
Until culinary school, a radish wasn’t much more than a crunchy root vegetable I’d find in a salad or on a vegetable platter. However, one particular class we used radishes in a few slow-roasted meat dishes, as well as mixed them into a spicy vegetable dish. Roasting the radishes completely changed the flavor profile, and I found myself eating them right off the baking sheet.
Roasting radishes mellows the spicy flavors a bit and brings out a slight sweetness. Although they aren’t terribly sweet, it’s just enough to balance the spicy flavor and give it a satisfying balance. Radishes also stay relatively moist during roasting and end up with a bit of a potato texture, just not quite as heavy.
Balsamic vinegar seems the perfect ingredient to pair with roasted radishes. The vinegar sweetens and caramelizes the radishes during roasting, creating an enchanting flavor that will compliment both roasted meat and fish entrees. Garnishing with fresh chopped thyme brings all the flavors together for one incredible side dish.
Although I adore these radishes served warm, if I have leftovers, I’ll add them to soups and stews or dice them and add them to a warm spinach salad.
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 bunches of fresh radishes
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 T. good quality balsamic vinegar
- salt and fresh pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Trim the radish tops and ends, and slice the larger radishes in half, leaving the small radishes whole. I like an assortment of halved and whole radishes. Place radishes in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet (the cut side down). Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the radishes are crisp, tender and slightly golden.
Remove radishes from the oven, and while they’re still hot, sprinkle with the chopped thyme and a little more salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with a little more balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.