I love radishes with all my little heart. I love them raw, so I was skeptical about roasting them. Maybe you are too? Roasting brings out the sweet side of the radish and tames the spice, making them palatable to the radish adverse. Roasted radishes are sweet, juicy and retain their crispness nicely. I’ve paired the radishes with fennel and red onion which are roasted for a longer time to so that they have caramelized a bit.
The roasted vegetables are served hot, on a bed of spicy radish greens. If you can’t find radishes with healthy looking greens you can use some other spicy green such as arugula or watercress. The toasted walnuts and gremolata (minced garlic, lemon peel and fresh parsley) provide crunch, richness, and a bit of zing,
Sadly, I am not making a big Easter meal this year. I’m involved in a big, beautiful, crazy, immersive theater piece and I will be installing my shadow puppet set up in the theater on Easter day. So, I will try my best to contemplate the rebirth of nature and spirit while playing with shadows in a darkened theater. It will all be worthwhile when Zeigfeld’s Midnight Frolic opens at a forgotten Broadway theater on April 18th. If you are in New York, come see it! If I were cooking an Easter meal, I would make this salad to serve alongside Rabbit in Savoury Chocolate sauce or Spring Lamb Stew. For a simple spring dinner party I would pair these roasted radishes with Watercress and Buttermilk Vichyssoise and serve Rhubarb Curd Tart with a Buckwheat Almond Crust for dessert. I really wish I had more time to cook right now. Instead, my husband and I shared this giant platter for lunch. My husband commented that this is the kind of salad that a rabbit would make. I instantly picture a rabbit kitchen deep in a cozy burrow. Peter Cottontail’s mother is roasting radishes and fennel bulbs and rabbit children are cracking walnuts for the gremolata. I was already very pleased with this salad, but with the bunny family image I like it even better.
Before we get to the recipe, please indulge me while I plug one more project! This summer, I am teaming up with Brooklyn Apple Academy to teach a one week cooking workshop for kids. The Run a Luncheonette Workshop will run Mon-Friday 7/27-7/31 (5 days) and be open to kids ages 7-11. We have access to a real New York City gem: The Sunview Luncheonette. The Sunview is a former dinner turned venue for arts, community and food. We have the use of the luncheonette for the whole week, to cook in, eat in, and use as our base. On Friday, we will open our doors as a luncheonette and serve a Prix-fixe meal to parents, friends, and Sunview mailing list members. Proceeds Benefit the Sunview luncheonette. Click here for more info about the camp.
ROASTED RADISH AND FENNEL WITH WALNUT GREMOLATA (COTTON TAIL SALAD)
- 1 small (or 1/2 large) bulb of fennel
- 1 small (or 1/2 large) red onion
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- flaky salt such as maldone to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 bunches of radishes with healthy looking greens
- 1 cup raw walnut pieces
- 1/3 cup flat Italian parsley leaves
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim the stalks off of the fennel and discard them (or save them for experimental soup stock). Slice the bulb thinly from top to bottom. Peel the red onion and slice thinly from top to bottom. In a large roasting sheet, toss the fennel with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast the fennel and onion for 10 minutes while you clean and prep the radishes.
- Remove the radish greens. Rinse them several times to remove the grit and spread them out to dry on a towel. Scrub the radishes and slice them in half from top to bottom. When the fennel and onions have roasted for 10 minutes throw the radishes onto the roasting sheet and toss them with another tablespoon of olive oil. Roast the vegetables for another 18 minutes while you prepare the walnut gremolata.
- Mince the walnuts and fry them in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Give the pan a shake once and a while while you prepare the parley, garlic and lemon. The goal is to toast them until they are a dark golden colour.
- Mince the parley and garlic very fine and zest the lemon (be careful to only use the yellow part of the zest, not the white pith which is very bitter). When the walnuts are golden, turn the heat off and add the minced parley, garlic and lemon zest to the pan. Stir the nut and herb mixture together so that the aromatics warm up a bit. Season to taste with salt.
- Chop the radish greens into small pieces or ribbons. Spread them out on a shallow platter and sprinkle with the final tablespoon of oil, a bit of salt and the juice of half of the lemon. Radish greens can be a bit tough so give them a quick massage in the dressing to wilt them a bit. Pour the roasted vegetables on top of the greens and squeeze the juice from the other half of the lemon over them. Top the whole thing with the walnut gremolata and serve hot.
MORE RADISH AND EASTER DISHES…