Radishes: red-skinned stepchild of the salad bowl. They always look so promising in the produce section, but somehow they always wind up in the bottom of the salad bowl, sliced and sad and shunned. They are delicious with sweet butter on a slice of bread, but how many radish sandwiches can a person eat?
Because of their salad-bowl-only status, we never think to cook them, but they really take well to methods like pickling, pan-frying and oven roasting. And the green tops are edible, too.
Don’t limit yourself to the scarlet globes; the daikon radish – that gigantic white carrot-shaped thing – is great, too. I love the crunch curlicues of white radish that garnish the plate at Asian restaurant (gotta get one of those veggie spiralizers!). Because they are so large, thick rounds of the daikon are perfect for braising. And we like to make pesto from the green tops (well, we like to make pesto out of just about anything).
Braised Daikon Radish
1 large daikon radish (about 1 pound)
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sake or dry Sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
Scrub the radish, peel it, and slice crosswise into 1” rounds.
Place the daikon in a single layer in a high-sided sauté pan. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the radish. Add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil; lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and the radish is tender, about 30-45 minutes.
Radish Green Pesto
(about ½ Cup)
3 Cups daikon radish greens
1/3 Cup slivered almonds
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Wash the greens in cold water, swishing them around to remove any grit.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; drop in the radish greens and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.
Stuff the radish greens to a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times or until roughly chopped. Add the almonds and pulse 15-20 times until the almonds and radish greens are very finely chopped. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse a few times to combine.
With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Taste for seasonings and texture and add salt, pepper, and olive oil as desired.