The humble radish

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More! We were not going to let the Green Goddess go to waste.

March 21: Green Goddess Dressing on Romaine with Celery, Radishes and Croutons

I liked this salad even better with the sweet crunch of celery and the peppery crunch of radishes than with slices of red onion like the day before.

Croutons made this a more filling salad and, other than some leftover potatoes, it was all we had for dinner. (I learned how to make my own croutons on Mar. 10.)

Last time I bought radishes, they were a bit old and tired and woody. But these were fresh and crisp and reminded me what’s nice about radishes. You taste a peppery “bite” but it’s different than a hot pepper in that you feel the refreshing spicy tingle on the sides of your tongue in back. (Makes you want a sip of lager beer.) Weird, right? But eat a fresh radish and notice that it’s true.

The raw flesh has a crisp texture and a pungent, peppery flavor, caused by glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase which combine when chewed to form allyl isothiocyanates, also present in mustard, horseradish, and wasabi.

But the peppery flavor is less up your nose and more on your tongue than wasabi or horseradish.

Radishes are root vegetables in the Brassicacaea family, along with mustards and cabbages. They are easy to grow.

Radish can sprout from seed to small plant in as little as 3 days. The descriptive Greek name of the genus Raphanus means “quickly appearing” and refers to the rapid germination of these plants.

And…

 Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium. They are a good source ofvitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.

Last year we planted Cincinnati Market and Early Scarlet Globe from Seeds Savers. It’s hard to think about planting now when the good earth is buried under 8 inches of white.

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I didn’t make a snowman, I made a radishman. It’s like a spring version of a jack-o-lantern.

I got the idea from Oaxaca, Mexico where, at Christmastime, they have a festival called the Night of the Radishes. Click for crazy-cool PHOTOS. More!.. Noche de Rábanos.

John is back to flying after being home sick with a rotten cold and cough through the middle of March. He had a layover in (stressful, dangerous) Caracas, Venezuela last night. I must increase our daily dose of antioxidants and other good vegetable things to ward off future illness.

“I am definitely getting my greens here at home,” said Laura, last night.

What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes. – Samuel Beckett

Future picnic

picnic salad

A kind of coleslaw, with cabbage, radishes, green pepper, cilantro and very good dressing.

The term “coleslaw” arose in the eighteenth century as an Anglicisation of the Dutch term “koolsla”, a shortening of “koolsalade”, which means “cabbage salad.”

March 13: Picnic (in the dining room) Salad

I was following a recipe for Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad from Simply Recipes but I couldn’t find napa cabbage or snow peas and I forgot the spring onions and I added a green pepper (to use it up). Also, I forgot to toast the almonds and just sprinkled them on at the end. I was springstruck from being outside in March sunshine all afternoon.

Anyway, the important part of this recipe was the dressing… which was very, very tasty.

dressing prep

Dressing ingredients (minus the minced garlic, which I remembered to add at the end).

Whisk rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, toasted sesame oil, garlic, ground ginger and cayenne pepper together, then add mayonnaise. The mere half teaspoon of toasted sesame oil was the key ingredient, I thought, adding distinctive, delicious fragrance and flavor to this dressing.

Sesame is a nutritious, antioxidant-rich flavor enhancer used in many Asian cuisines. It was first cultivated as an oil crop in the Indus Valley civilization and exported to Mesopotamia around 2500 B.C. The oil is used in massage and alternative healing therapies like Ayurveda “to pacify stress related symptoms.”

pretoss

Here is the salad just before tossing, which I did with my hands. Ah, salad massage!

Radishes are pretty and have a nice bite of flavor, for a vegetable. They are one of the first crops we can grow in the spring, but we have to restrain ourselves from planting our radishes too early.

It’s too early for everything here right now, even though yesterday was beautifully sunshiny and nearly 50 degrees. The snow is melting, the ground is muddy, cold seeps out from the woods, the sun is hot, the trees are still bare, but the birds are singing their spring songs and there were ducks on our pond yesterday.

We ate our picnic salad at dinnertime, in the dining room, with roast beef and roasted new potatoes dressed with a little truffle oil. We imagined picnics to come.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  – Charles Dickens