Last Chance Foods: Radishes Are the Real Fast Food


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Here’s a fun project for kids and apartment dwellers: Plant a radish seed in a pot, care for it, and then 25 to 30 days later, you should be able to harvest a fully grown vegetable.

When it comes to farming, a month’s time is as close to instant gratification as you can get, said Edible Manhattan editor Gabrielle Langholtz. She’s the author of The New Greenmarket Cookbook, which includes recipes from New York chefs and profiles of area farmers.

“[Radishes in the spring] are much milder and very quick to grow and prepare,” Langholtz explained. “So that’s one of the reasons they’re… one of the very first things we see.”

The bright red Cherry Belle and French breakfast radishes in season right now are an ideal complement to the bounty of leafy greens also available at the farmers market. They are crisp and tend to be milder than their fall counterparts.

“The varieties that you will buy at the greenmarket in the fall and going into winter are different varieties that have been bred for centuries for different qualities: long growing, cooler growing, better keeping,” said Langholtz. (Photo: Gabrielle Langholtz, Craig Haney, and their daughter/Anita Briggs)

The spring radishes add color and crunch to salads and make for a great quick pickle. Langholtz recommends using them in the recipe below for Sugar Snap Pea and Whipped-Ricotta Tartines. “It’s an open-faced sandwich that’s wonderfully light and fresh and delicious,” she said. “And talk about fast food. I mean, you can make it in a few minutes.”

Sugar Snap Pea and Whipped-Ricotta Tartinesby Dana Cowin, Editor in Chief, Food & Wine

Spring brings three kinds of peas—shell, snow, and snap. The first, as the name implies, must be shelled, but the other two have sweet, crunchy pods which the French call mange tout, meaning “eat it all.”

But “eat it all” can have an even broader pea meaning: The plant’s tender shoots are also perfectly edible, raw or cooked, and carry the true flavor of peas.

Here the pods and plants are served together, along with radishes, atop a tartine—or French open-faced sandwich—that’s at once creamy and light, rustic and elegant.

    1 cup fresh ricotta cheese ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Four ½-inch-thick slices of peasant bread 1 peeled garlic clove ½ pound sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and strings discarded 2 ½ tablespoons Champagne vinegar 1 tablespoon minced shallot 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ½ cup snipped pea shoots 3 large radishes, cut into thin matchsticks About ? cup crushed red pepper, for garnish

In a medium bowl, using a whisk, whip the ricotta with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until toasted but still chewy in the middle, about 2 minutes. Rub the toasts with the garlic clove and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare an ice water bath. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the snap peas until bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer the snap peas to the ice bath to cool. Drain and pat dry, then thinly slice lengthwise.

In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar with the shallot, mustard, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the snap peas, pea shoots, and radishes; season with salt and pepper; and toss to coat. Spread the whipped ricotta on the toasts and top with the snap pea slaw. Garnish with crushed red pepper and serve.


From The New Greenmarket Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014

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