Radishes

It’s been a while since I’ve been on WordPress. Lethargy set in with the second (or was it third/fourth?) round of lockdowns. Now, on the cusp of early summer, Greece is beginning to open up again, travel is now an option, vaccines have been rolled out in an orderly fashion, and people are beginning to feel more hopeful. The laiki (our open-air market) has been bustling, but still with social distancing and mask wearing in effect. My greens and herb provider was in a lively mood this past market day. I stocked up with lettuces, rocket, baby courgettes with their flowers still attached, and almyra – an early summer green related to tamarisk that makes a spectacular cooked salad for fish. Just as we were leaving the stall, he handed me a gift of a bunch of radishes.

I have to confess that I don’t normally buy radishes. They have a nice peppery taste in salads, but it isn’t something that I lust after – a must have ingredient. So…confronted with a dilemma, I wondered if there was an INTERESTING way of using them. Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of greens of all sorts, so the first thing I considered using were the radish greens. I had a little taste of the greens and discovered that they did not have the same intense pepperiness as the actual vegetable. Nor were they particularly tender – more kale-like in texture. But, I figured that I could work with them. My thoughts took the usual route to risotto which would have the added benefit of using some of those baby courgettes.

Radish greens risotto
Using feta, kephalotyri and mint gives the risotto a Greek identity and adds flavour to the courgettes and radish greens.

  • One bunch of radishes with greens, about 250g
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small courgettes
  • olive oil
  • 250g risotto rice
  • splash of white wine
  • 700ml stock (vegetarian or chicken)
  • 4-5 leaves fresh mint
  • 40g feta cheese
  • 15g butter (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 20g grated hard sharp cheese like kephalotyri or aged ricotta salata

Warm your stock in a small pan and keep it on simmer. Clean and finely chop the radish greens; set them aside. Top and tail the small cleaned courgettes and slice them lengthwise into for strips before cutting them across into small pieces; set these aside. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and then add onions to sautée. When they begin to take on colour, add the courgette pieces. After a minute or two, stir the rice into the pan and then splash on the wine. Stir and let the wine completely disappear. Add the radish greens, stir and add a ladle or two of the stock. Stir occasionally and add more stock when the pervious ladleful has been absorbed. Continue doing this until the last ladle. When the last stock has been absorbed, add the butter and the finely sliced mint, stir until the butter melts. Add the crumbled feta and immediately turn off the heat. Fold the feta in the risotto and then sprinkle on the kephalotyri. Stir and let it sit before you serve.

Serve with a simple tomato salad. The risotto was delicious, mildly peppery, but was enhanced by the aromatic mint and the salty feta. The courgettes gave it bulk.

I’ll think of something to do with the pinky-red vegetable other than simply sliced finely on a salad. Pickled, maybe? They’ll keep longer for use in salads.

11 comments

  1. oddly radishes are a sort of new thing to me. i mean i’ve eaten them, and knew of them but i only started buying them and adding them to salads in the last couple of years. now i adore them! great to try something new.

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  2. What a great way of using the greens too. I’m hoping Greek radishes are the peppery items I remember from my childhood. They seem to have gone a bit anaemic in taste over here in England these days.

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    • Very peppery and crisp, but am trying a new way of preparing them – roasting. From my memories of childhood, radishes are easy to grow. Maybe homegrown ones might be peppery. I think a lot of supermarkets stock veg from mega farms that grow in ways that aim for cost effective production. In the process the products lose flavour. Timing also a factor – from soil to table.

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