Saturday, January 24, 2015

Black Radishes, Outrageous Salad!

Known to contain vitamin C, potassium, iron and magnesium as well as vitamins A, E and B, the black radish also possesses an ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function. Dried and powdered, it's found in herbal supplements and is used in homeopathy to treat thyroid imbalances and improve liver function.

Not being a big one for stuffing myself with lots of supplements, preferring instead to fill my belly with delicious things in their more natural state, I was pleased to discover that the black radish lends a peppery bite to a root slaw. Having volunteered to bring a salad to a crab feed and inspired by the two black radish salads concocted by Linda Colwell at this year's Ayers Creek Farm Ramble, I hauled out our trusty mandoline and went to town.

I wasn't sure how many radish fiends were in the crowd and didn't want to overwhelm the crab with the sometimes strong heat and bitterness that some of these members of the brassica family carry. Following Linda's lead, I salted down the julienned radishes and let them stand for a couple of hours on the counter, which tames some of their harsher, peppery tendencies. A quick rinse to wash off the salt, draining them well and then drying them in an absorbent dish towel and they were ready for the salad bowl.

There were a couple of small globes of celery root (right) in the vegetable bin that hadn't gone into a root vegetable stew the week before, so while the radishes enjoyed their salty spa treatment I julienned those as well, figuring their mild celery flavor and crisp texture would add a nice touch to the finished salad.

Since for once I was running ahead of schedule, I made up a quick lemon vinaigrette and doused the rooty mixture, tossing it well and putting it in the fridge so that the flavors could mingle until we left for dinner. A couple of tosses in the interim and then a final toss before serving, and this simple salad was declared the belle of the ball.

Simple Black Radish Salad

4 large black radishes
2 small, peeled globes of celery root (or one large), optional
2/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Scrub radishes to rid them of any dirt or dust, but don't peel. Using a mandoline, julienne them into matchstick-sized pieces. Put the julienned radishes into a large bowl, add the 1/2 cup salt and stir to combine. Let sit on the counter for a couple of hours.

While waiting for radishes, make the dressing by whisking lemon juice, oregano and 1/8 tsp. salt into olive oil.* Set aside. When salted radishes are ready, rinse them well under running water, drain in a colander and dry them with an absorbent dish towel (I love flour sack dish towels for this purpose.) Add them back to the bowl, julienne the celery root (if using) and add them to the radishes. Pour the dressing over the top, stir to combine and put the salad into the refrigerator. Stir occasionally. Serve.

* You can also add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a crushed garlic clove to make a mustard vinaigrette.

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