Philacatessen | Winter Radishes Add Zing to Salad


We are all basking in the afterglow of the Eagles Super Bowl victory. This is universally wonderful.

Less wonderful, however, is the fact that we also may be experiencing the results of indulging in too many nachos or bowls of chili or steak sandwiches during the game. The good news is that we can still find flavorful, local produce to counter the consequences without feeling too deprived. And, let’s face it, we wouldn’t change a thing about LII.

Last week, I visited my local farmers market in search of fresh, local produce, which can be hard to come by in February. I was happy to find plenty of root veggies and hardy greens, and also some cellared apples and pears that are still holding their texture and taste.

I was especially delighted to discover two new radishes: the black and the watermelon radish. Both are large, about the size of an onion, and add crunch and an earthy zest to salads.

The black radish, the spicier of the two, was originally cultivated in South America, according to the farmer, and was used to treat stomach ailments. It has a dark skin, but the inside is a creamy white color.

The watermelon radish, slightly milder in flavor, is green-yellow on the outside with a gorgeous pink-red speckled interior.

I’ve used them both in salads all week, and each night my husband says, “This is a really good salad,” so I must be doing something right. To prep the radishes, I peel them and either slice them into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler or hash them in very small cubes. To counter the slightly bitter, earthy spice, I’ve added pears or apples to the salad, and also drizzled honey in with the dressing. The sweet ingredients complement the radishes beautifully.

Keep in mind, with the radishes that a little goes a long way — my two radishes have lasted all week, which is good, because I will run out just in time for next week’s farmers market.

The beauty of this salad is its versatility. Any lettuce or green works. Hate pistachios? Swap them for another nut or omit them entirely. Want to add cheese? Go for something salty-briny like feta or Parmesan. Have a ripe avocado lying around? Drop it in; the creamy smoothness will marry well with the zesty crunch of the radish. The key is to balance the flavors and textures with delicious contrasts.

This fuss-free dish enables you to make dressing right on top of the salad and toss it up before serving — hence the approximate measures indicated below.

Sweet and Zesty Radish Salad

Serves two to four

  • 5-6 cups baby greens (spring mix, baby romaine, spinach or baby kale)
  • ¼ cup chopped or ribbon-sliced radishes
  • ½ apple or pear, cut in small pieces
  • ½ carrot, cut as desired, in coins or ribbons
  • ¼ cup salted pistachios or almonds, if desired
  • ¼ cup grated or crumbled cheese, if desired
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper
  • Scant sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Drizzle of honey (about 1 teaspoon total)
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about 1 teaspoon total)
  • Double drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)

In a medium-sized salad bowl, place the lettuce, radish, pear/apple, carrot, nuts and cheese, if using.

Sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic powder, honey, vinegar and oil over the salad.

Toss and serve immediately.


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