Friday, June 11th, 2010

Meet Your Vegetables: Radish Chips

1I have a baking sheet of radishes in the oven, hopefully transmogrifying from little red-ringed slices of a vegetable I don't particularly love into rich, crispy, salty little chips, which I hope I will at least like. Heat, oil, and salt-the same magic that makes almost every other vegetable delicious. But a preparation that's a little more finicky this time. And it's one of the last evenings it'll be cool enough for baking all summer.

I have never been a big fan of a radish-it's at once flavorless and too peppery, as pretty as it might be-but something, one of those internet somethings that slips through your mind-sieve and leaves just an untraceable residue behind, reminded me recently of my first year or two shopping at the farmers market. I reached into bins of strange vegetables with enamored abandon. I took them home like adopted pets or science projects, to try to love and to see what would happen. Also the radishes were a dollar a bunch. So I would figure out something to do with them.

I've been back at the market for weeks now (though I never really left), eager for the first spring produce and then before the asparagus was even gone-and when it finally was, I failed to notice its final showing-anxious for summer bounty. The anticipation feels greedy without the old naïve mystery of what each trip to the greenmarket would yield. In a few weeks there will be raspberries. Next time the strawberries might taste better and be a little cheaper. Where are the string beans? I want to cook eggplant. (Never mind the beautiful kale and lambsquarter in the bag over my shoulder that I've already bought and whose delicious ends I could be planning.) I didn't get around to that asparagus pesto recipe. I never figured out what to do with rhubarb, so now I'll have to wait another year.

2I've been seeing abundant stinging nettles for weeks but it's too Harry Potter, too Plants vs. Zombies. Too much work, and I don't even know if they taste good. I'm just not gonna buy food I'd have to wear protective gloves to be able to handle.

Three summers ago I borrowed a big, green book from the library, with the sort of un-hip, momish cover design that comes from either the 70s or the early 90s. It cataloged vegetables simply and alphabetically, explaining how to choose them, how to store them, and basic preparations. Armed with that (and the internet), every Saturday I took home whatever vegetables were cheap and lush. Our caveman brains still know what's good to eat, like the very pretty onions this past weekend, smooth and hard, golden and the size of my fist.

But radishes, I don't like radishes, so of course this weekend I bought them. Because otherwise I can buy the same things I bought this time a year ago, and continue on like that until all that's left are the apples and winter squash I faced wearily in February. (The apples are still at the market, but so are the strawberries, and even if the berries a few weeks away from their heart-stoppingly delicious peak, they are strawberries, and so we buy them.)

RADISHES 3If you slice your radishes even and thin (this and shredding cabbage make a mandolin very worth it) and toss them in a little olive oil and sprinkle them with salt, you can lay them on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven to bake and crisp for an hour or so. (This is a time to use parchment paper.) It's a stupid thing to do in the summer, to run your oven that long, but before the radishes are out of season there will be a few more cold nights-they are a late spring vegetable, really, all gaudy magenta and, did I mention, just one dollar for a hefty bunch.

In the oven the radishy bite melts and mellows into something almost sweet. They are unattractively shriveled, and some make it to the burned side of golden, but even those are delicious and just see if you can stop yourself eating them all plucked from the hot baking sheet while you stand in the kitchen in pajamas. It's not really a meal, and you should probably go to bed. But you figured out something new to do with a vegetable, and you are young enough that you should keep doing things like that.

Jaime Green knows how fast summer passes.

29 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

Mmm. Your last name betrays you.

zidaane (#373)

Zucchini with olive oil and sea salt is also great done this way. Add a pinch of shaved Parmesan cheese.

Does the zucchini get crispy? Or just soft and roastedy?

deepomega (#1,720)

Depends how you prep and bake it. Salt the zucchini in a collander and let it drain for a while, then roast it at higher temperatures, and it'll get crispy/chippy. Don't drain it and it'll be softer and roaster.

zidaane (#373)

I usually add this to butter and olive oil pasta.
The zucchini ends up very sweet with a nice salty cheese tang.

David Bivins (#5,460)

Nice! Thanks for this. I also take home strange vegetables from the farmer's market each week and figure out what to do with them.

hockeymom (#143)

Loved this!
Any ideas on what to do with lots and lots of arugula? Our garden has been taken over by the elitist vegetable (herb?) and I'm running out of salad ideas. I've used it as a bed for salmon, but I was thinking of maybe an arugula lasagna. Though, now that I see it in writing, it sounds kind of gross.

jaimealyse (#647)

Arugula pesto might be a great way to use up big quantities quickly. Or in/with eggs?

HiredGoons (#603)


portmanteautally (#1,015)

Arugula is one of the best things you can put on pizza! Try with some prosciutto and manchego.

jolie (#16)

@HiredGoons: It's already gone by. Which you would know if Choire hadn't cruelly REJECTED BY SICHA my piece on fiddleheads. I guess I'm to stick to the 'baking alcohlic' beat. *shrugs*

Dave Bry (#422)

Oh, man. I love fiddlehead ferns! I was lucky enough to have some in Charleston, South Carolina this spring, at this terrific restaurant called Fig. (Go there if you ever can.) I also love radishes. Raw, or (as I recently had them for the first time) roasted. I like dipping them in salt when they're raw. Lastly, does the picture of all the sliced radishes spread out on that baking pan remind anyone else of a map of the 50 states? It's been tricking my eye like that all day.

oudemia (#177)

Fresh Direct still has fiddleheads, I see — but who knows if those are any good.

And very very much seconding the arugula-on-pizza idea. You can basically dress it like a salad and dump the lot on your crust before baking.

hockeymom (#143)

Pizza it is….molto grazie!

Baboleen (#1,430)

This sounds great. I just ate a slice of radish from one of those bagged salads, and it tasted like, like nothing.

Bittersweet (#765)

Agreed, except for me radishes are more like nothing with an extended unpleasant aftertaste. They've got to taste better as chips.

I had an inexplicable love for radishes as a child, but have not eaten any in ages. I am intrigued.

Aatom (#74)

same here.

I second Arugula Pesto. Any green + any nut + garlic (scapes if you got em?!) + lots of olive oil = ultimate condiment. I just did red mustard and pecan pesto (cuz I live in the South) and put that on grilled pizza with bluefish and a local hard sheep's milk cheese.

More topical: radish green pesto is excellent, too.

Maevemealone (#968)

Kale chips work well with this type of veggie snack recipe as well. They only take a few minutes so less oven time is a plus.

Also also! I'll always love The Red Cat in Chelsea for having bowls of radishes and kosher salt as their bar snack. That was my first real legitimate intro to radishes.

BadUncle (#153)

Can you do this on a grill, or in a smoker?

I grew a ton of radishes this year in the garden. I have no idea why. Now, though, I know what to do with them.

cherrispryte (#444)

I am disappointed in all of you who did not immediately think of Fraggles upon reading about eating radishes.

muskegharpy (#2,094)

Yay radishes! Also radish pickles and radish slaw served with grilled meats.

A haiku I just saw set to music last weekend:

When the winter chrysanthemums go,
there's nothing to write about
but radishes.

Matsuo Basho

lbf (#2,343)

For reference, that minimalist aspargus pesto sucked. #thanksalotbittman

Chris Czerwonka (#5,507)

Beet chips! One of my all-time favorite snacks in Chicago. Sadly, it looks like they're MIA right now!

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