Pep squad

One of the year's first crops, radishes add crunch and character to different kinds of dishes.

By Adam Ried
June 5, 2011

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Like spring, radishes seem to emanate energy and enthusiasm. They grow early and quickly, giving gardeners a rare sense of instant gratification and market shoppers something lovely and fresh to enjoy at the start of the growing season. Radishes bring this immediacy into the kitchen, too. They’re often eaten raw to make the most of their refreshing crunch and peppery pungency (you can cook them if you like, but I never bother). In these recipes, radishes provide bracing counterpoints: peppery against mild potatoes and briny shrimp, crisp against supple Chinese wheat noodles with simple Asian seasonings, and fresh against earthy mushrooms.

Potato Salad With Radishes and Shrimp

Serves 6 (makes about 8 cups)

Salt and pepper

2 pounds small redskin potatoes (about 12, 3-inch diameter), scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons minced

fresh dill

12 large radishes, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

3/4 pound small shrimp, cooked and patted dry with paper towels (about 1½ cups)

In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 7 1/2 minutes. Drain potatoes, immediately arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with vinegar, and rest until cool, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large nonreactive bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, shallots, 2 tablespoons dill, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste.

With a flexible spatula, scrape the potatoes into the bowl with the dressing. Add the radishes and shrimp, and fold gently to combine well. Taste the potato salad and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining dill, and serve at once.
Sesame Noodles with Radishes and Cucumber

Serves 4 (makes about 6 cups)

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar


9 ounces (1 package) fresh Chinese wheat noodles

12 large radishes, cut into thin strips (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted and cooled

5 scallions, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar dissolves, about 45 seconds, and set aside.

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the noodles, stir gently to separate the noodles, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 1/2 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander, immediately rinse with cold running water until cool to the touch, and drain again. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and toss to coat.

Whisk the dressing again to reblend. Add the noodles, radishes, cucumber, most of the sesame seeds, and most of the scallions, and toss. Arrange the noodles in a serving bowl or plate, sprinkle with the remaining scallions and sesame seeds, and serve at once.
Whipped Goat Cheese and Radish Spread

Makes about 2 cups

This is good with crudites or pita chips, or as a sandwich spread.

6 ounces fresh goat cheese,

at room temperature

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest and a squeeze of juice (optional) from 1 lemon

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

12 large radishes, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a food processor, puree the goat cheese, yogurt, lemon zest, oil, shallots, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, fold in the radishes and parsley, and rest for at least 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if necessary, stir, and serve at once. (The spread will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.)
Sauteed Mushroom Sandwiches with Whipped Goat Cheese and Radish Spread

Makes 6 sandwiches

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Salt and pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

2 large onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

12 slices (about 1/2 inch thick) from 1 loaf pullman, country, Italian, or other hearty bread

1 1/2 cups Whipped Goat Cheese and Radish Spread

2 cups packed torn arugula leaves (about 1 1/2 ounces)

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring often, until brown and reduced to about 1 cup, about 14 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove to a medium bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the remaining oil, and heat. Add the onions and ¾ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and reduced to about 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Add the onions to the bowl with the mushrooms, stir, and cool for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, toast the bread and then spread about 2 tablespoons Whipped Goat Cheese and Radish Spread over each slice. Top six slices with about 1/3 cup mushroom mixture, about 1/3 cup arugula, and another slice of the dressed bread. Press lightly, cut in half, if desired, and serve at once.

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THE HEAT IS ON Sliced radishes create some spark in this creamy potato-shrimp salad. (Photograph by Jim Scherer; Styling by Catrine Kelty) THE HEAT IS ON Sliced radishes create some spark in this creamy potato-shrimp salad.

Just radishing

Arguably one of the very best ways to enjoy radishes is in the French manner – raw, dipped in butter, and sprinkled with a few crystals of fleur de sel or another rough salt. Talk about a play of flavors and textures! Peppery, crisp, watery radish with sweet, creamy, dense butter and crunchy, intense salt. Follow it with a bite of crusty baguette. For an Eastern European take on the combo, substitute a dark, grainy rye or pumpernickel bread for the baguette.