Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans, and then he ate some radishes."

Do you recognize that passage from The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter? Easter is almost here and it's time to make a plan! I want to bring "Spring" to my table, specifically radishes! With such varieties as "Easter Egg Radishes" and "Spring Radishes," I think they make a welcome addition to my Easter table. Radishes are a root vegetable, thought to have originated in Asia, and date back to pre-Roman times. The name comes from the Latin "radix," meaning root, and are part of the mustard family. They come in a variety of colors, from red, black, white (aka., daikon), and even purple. With their pungent peppery taste, they are usually eaten raw in salads, garnishes, and crudites. But did you know that you can cook them, steam them, roast them, and even pickle them? In fact, they are very versatile and, in my opinion, quite under-appreciated, particularly here in the US.

When buying these little beauties, look for firm radishes with a smooth skin and no spots or bruising, and the green tops should be fresh and bright. For a simple and stunning recipe, perfect alongside any Easter ham or lamb, try Laura Calder's "Spring Vegetable Tumble," from French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating. It's so lovely! I'm sure Peter would approve!

Spring Vegetable Tumble

Serves 4


8 baby carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 ounces snow peas
4 ounces asparagus, cut into thirds
6 radishes, halved
4 ounces yellow beans, cut into thirds (I couldn't find any, so I used harticot verts.)
4 ounces baby turnips, quartered
1 cup frozen or shelled fresh peas
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few handfuls of chopped fresh herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley, chervil...)

*Note: As Laura states, don't be limited by the vegetables suggested, you can change the combination to your preference.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it, and blanch all the vegetables separately. Exact time will depend on the vegetable, but count on a few minutes each and be near by to taste-test for al dente. As the vegetables are done, fish them out with a hand-held strainer, and refresh each in ice water. Drain.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Toss the vegetables together to finish cooking and warm through. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the herbs, and serve.

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