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Spring: radishes and scallions. April 7, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s spring, and for me and our friend Ben, spring means garden-fresh radishes and scallions (green onions)! Here at Hawk’s Haven, we love radishes, and we like ’em hot—when we bite into a radish, we want it to bite back. We also want our radishes to be crisp and crunchy, not rubbery or woody, and nothing is crisper than a freshly pulled radish.

We not only love eating radishes, we love growing them, too. They’re about the easiest crop there is, after onion sets. (See our earlier post, “In praise of onion sets,” for more about them.) Toss the seed on your garden bed, water it in, watch for weeds, and wait for radishes. End of story! Well, maybe not quite the end: You need to thin the radish seedlings when they come up so the ones you leave in the ground have enough room to make nice, fat radishes. But when you pull up the extra seedlings, you can put them (washed, please) in a salad, leaves and all, for a nice, spicy treat.

Radishes are easy to grow, and they mature quickly (some in as little as 20-30 days from sowing). Whether you plant a classic round red radish like ‘Early Scarlet Globe’, a red-and-white bicolor like ‘Sparkler’ or ‘French Breakfast’, a mix of white, pink, rose, and purple like ‘Easter Egg’, or even a yellow radish like ‘Helios’ (or all of the above!), you’ll get an abundant, foolproof crop.

One of our favorite ways to eat radishes, after the French fashion, is sliced on buttered rounds of crusty baguette with a little salt. (Admittedly, unlike the French, we prefer these as appetizers rather than for breakfast. And, while we love ‘French Breakfast Radishes’ on our baguette slices, any radishes are good.) Our friend Ben and I also love to eat radishes in their simplest form, whole, also salted, and of course we love them sliced in salads.

But you don’t have to just eat radishes whole or sliced. You can also use them to make a luscious dip or spread, a great way to put a bumper crop to good use. We were introduced to this recipe by the farmers at our local CSA, Quiet Creek Farm. Thank you, John and Aimee!

Spring Radish Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (leaves, not seeds)

1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained (optional)

1 cup finely chopped or grated radishes

salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers, on crusty bread (baguettes, rye, sourdough), with tortilla chips, and/or with veggies like carrot sticks or chips, broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, or even freshly sliced cukes for dipping. Makes about 2 cups.

Yummy as this dip is, it only scratches the surface of radish possibilities. (We’re not even going to talk about daikon radishes, with their infinite uses; maybe next post.) If you matchstick radishes, you can add them to coleslaw for delicious bite, or to an omelette, or use them in a topping for a barbecue or roast beef sandwich, or a textural addition to hot sauce for seafood, or to kick up fried rice or stir-fry or sushi. And there are endless other options.

For those who seek to reduce calories, radishes are a pretty much no-calorie but satisfying option. And, as Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reminded me, there are many, many ways to use radishes to satisfy your cravings, whatever they are. Radish-related recipes in that issue ranged from Radish and Fennel salad through Pea, Radish and Ricotta Bruschetta to Roasted Spring Radishes and Potatoes with Radish Puree and Daikon Radish Cake. They all looked yummy (though I’d have served the radish and fennel slald over greens). See for yourself at http://www.wsj.com.

Ah, radishes. Coupled with spring’s other delights, scallions, asparagus, emerging greens, what a delight! Let’s celebrate the season.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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