In Praise of Radishes…

tumblr_inline_mq1nma2f1d1qz4rgpFor most people, having too many radishes is never a problem.

Either you don’t like radishes and you never buy them, or you absolutely adore them, and so consume them as quickly as possible when you get home from the market. And because radishes are so easily incorporated into meals—smeared with butter and sprinkled with salt, or chopped into salads or slaws—one rarely feels the need to get creative with them.

When I was a kid, I hated radishes because they came from the grocery store and so were often too strong in bite, too mealy in texture, and too watery from being stored in water to keep them fresh (despite the fact that what made them so strong was the fact that they were never that fresh to begin with). Luckily for me, they were easy to avoid because they were served in one of two ways: on a plate, as an option, or paper thin, in a potato salad, where they could be appreciated for their crunch alone.

Later, when I started to frequent farmer’s markets and realized that a) there were different kinds of radishes, and b) that radishes were both tastier and more versatile than I had previously thought, I began to eat them in greater numbers. In fact, when chopped and lightly salted, or dressed with a little vinegar or lemon, they become a quick-made pickle that provides crunch and balance to tacos, curries and all manner of grilled meats.

But it was a photo on Dorie Greenspan’s twitter account—a photo without a recipe attached, I might add—that really got me thinking about this little vegetable in a whole new way: radishes and their greens, with chocolate.

It was so weirdly enticing that when I came across a tiny bundle of baby radishes at the market yesterday, their leaves young and tender, I had to see if I could make something that was as beautiful as the dish in the picture and was also (somehow) good to eat.

The good news? It was an incredibly easy dish to make. And like all good summer foods, was quite delicious served at room temperature.

WHAT TO DO:

Simply separate the greens from the radishes and wash both parts well. I quartered them, but you could halve them or leave them whole.

Have the dark chocolate—72% or darker—standing by.

Melt a good chunk of butter, like a tablespoon, in a frying pan over medium heat and add the greens. Let them cook until they are fully wilted, then dump them and their liquid into a blender. Add some olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, and puree until smooth.

While the pan is still hot, add the radishes and toss them around for a minute or two, or until the pan cools. This will take some of the edge off and make them a bit softer to the tooth—you can also cherish their god-given gifts and leave them raw.

tumblr_inline_mq1p9yqjMD1qz4rgpWhen you are ready to serve, ladle the puree into shallow bowls and decorate with radishes. As a final step, sprinkle the dish with fleur de sel and a healthy grating of dark chocolate over top.

Deliver to the table with flare.

Serves 4-5 people as a first course.

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