A Radish is Ravishing: Simple Roasted Radishes, Radish and Cucumber Salad with Rice Vinegar Dressing
Today marks the first post documenting official small steps of hopeful progress towards a long-term goal. It was one of my few bold, publicly stated New Year's resolutions, I would begin to acquire the semblance of budding photography skills, even if my methods remained "simply point and shoot", and my best shots continued to be taken with an iphone, perhaps, for awhile. I can't say my uncharacteristically forward declaration of intentions back in January did much to hasten progress, unfortunately. Until this week, all I'd done was pretend to read a couple of pages of the fat manual for our modest Canon Power Shot SD870 IS. If you're slightly impressed that I can at least name my camera model (and I doubt you are), don't be. The truth is, I couldn't tell you make or model, or anything outside of approximate size and color, until Valerie, an exceptional photographer whose work is transporting and beyond stunning, agreed to spend an hour giving me a crash tutorial, and requested the details. If you wander over to Valerie's website and browse awhile, you'll understand why her time is at a premium, and I felt compelled to be as organized and prepared as possible for our hour of efficiency tackling my photo-naivete. We were going to focus on key points involved in photographing food, and so I was to prepare something I knew I wanted to write about.
I chose radishes. Not because crisp, sharp and spicy, easy-to-grow radishes radiate warm shades of red with brilliant green (edible!) leaves that provide beautiful contrast to white flesh and clean china. Nor because, as I've just discovered, radishes are surprisingly healthy, and have been rather revered in their day. An excellent source of vitamin C, the nutrient package that makes a radish (including sulphur, calcium, potassium and folate) has made it a popular ingredient in beauty remedies and weight loss recipes. Apparently, the often-overlooked-as -simply-garnish radish occupied a place of good repute in ancient Greece, with Greek physician Androcydes ordering his patients to eat a radish as a preservative against intoxication.
No, none of the above are really why I chose radishes. The real reason, my garden is currently more plentiful in radishes than most any other vegetable, outside of Bibb lettuce and arugula, and because I had just discovered a heartbreaking but funny truth ... that we hadn't actually planted exactly what we thought this year. I know I'm digressing from radishes, but I have to get this off my chest. Last year, or maybe two years ago, I planted some cucumber seeds in a large container. I haven't had much luck with cucumbers, and the container stayed barren, then I forgot about it. This spring, some hardy little "cucumber plants" sprouted, to our great surprise and glee, and seemed to strengthen by the day. There were loads of them, packed increasingly tightly as they quickly outgrew their container. Excitedly, I transplanted, mapping out ample sections of two raised beds for them.
Weeks later, a curious thing happened to our "cucumber plants". They grew. Like Jack and the Beanstalk's beanstalk, they really grew, under our denying eyes, hardy and ever taller, until we were forced to admit these were not cucumbers. So what were they? Of course ... Dave had installed a bird feeder on our deck this spring, and the sunflowers in the bird seed mix had doubtless blown into the container, resulting indirectly in a garden of sunflowers.
Fortunately, some room remained still for pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, arugula, lettuce, chard, and radishes. The latter of which I must admit I myself have only ever used, until now, as a garnish.
In anticipation of Valerie's visit, I started searching radish recipes, and found a whole beautiful gallery of them from Martha Stewart. Suddenly I got a little stingy with my radishes! I didn't want to pull them all up, after all. There was too much experimenting to linger over! Instead, I was very conservative, and roasted a few (easy, easy, just toss with some olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, then roast for 15 minutes at 450 F); I also used Martha's recipes as inspiration and made a cucumber radish salad with rice vinegar dressing I like to use on cucumbers alone. I threw in a bunch of freshly picked arugula along with some of the radish greens, and later decided to add in some spicy peanuts, too. It was light, crunchy and colorful, plus a lovely, pliable model for a clean, summery recipe beginner's photo shoot. Thanks, Valerie!
Cucumber-Radish Salad with Rice Vinegar Dressing
Serves 2-3 as a side
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and seeded, then sliced
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- pepper to taste
- 2 cups mixed greens (I used some of the radish greens--stems removed, arugula, and spinach)
- optional: dry roasted or spicy peanuts to taste (I used 2 T Trader Joe's chili lime peanuts)
1. Slice radishes and cucumbers and place in a salad bowl.
2. Whisk rice vinegar, honey or sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add to cucumber-radish mixture and toss gently to coat.
3. Add mixed greens and toss to combine. Serve with a sprinkling of peanuts, if using.