The First Bites of Springtime
As the weather warms and flowers open, we feel that our plates should be overflowing with fresh produce but the reality is that the growing season has just begun and there are only a few fresh local ingredients readily available.
Radishes, because of their quick growing season, are abundantly available, the first burst of fresh green herbs are arriving, juicy, crisp salad turnips can easily germinate in colder weather and are plump and ready for harvesting now. Though the asparagus might not yet be on our plates, we can certainly enjoy the first bites of spring and know that abundant varieties are just around the corner.
I recently stumbled across a recipe by Alison Roman for roasted radishes with green goddess butter. I had never roasted a radish before, I prize them for their fresh crunchiness so the idea of roasting them seemed almost offensive. Green goddess butter, however, sounded like a gift to mankind and one that I must certainly ingest. I enjoy crisp, fresh radishes dipped in salted butter so this is just a play on that classic combination. I roasted a huge bunch of radishes and was blown away by the result. As they roast, the leaves get crispy and the radishes maintain their juiciness and flavor. See for yourself!
Roasted Radishes with Green Goddess Butter
1 bunch fresh radishes, cleaned leaves left on
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp capers
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fennel frond or tarragon
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or pressed through a garlic press
1 Tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar
Preheat oven to 425
On a metal sheet tray, toss the cut radishes with olive oil and seasalt. Lay them so that the flat edge is making contact with the sheet tray, this will optimize crisping. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
While the radishing are roasting, chop all of the herbs, capers and anchovies and mix them in a bowl with the butter, garlic and vinegar until well combined, taste for seasoning. You can omit the anchovy if you’re not an anchovy fan and improvise with whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.
Spread the butter evenly over your serving platter and plate the roasted radishes on top of it. Enjoy! If you have any leftover butter it is wonderful with steak, rubbed under chicken skin before roasting or just smothered on a piece of fresh bread.
Salad Turnips with Turnip Green Dip
Salad turnips are sweet and crunchy and their tops are not to be discarded. One of my favorite things to do with them is make a bright, vibrant dip out of the tops to dip the roots in.
One large bunch of salad turnips, greens intact
1 clove garlic
¼ cup oil (non gmo canola, safflower, avo, rice bran or sunflower)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt to taste
Black and white sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
In a blender, combine cleaned turnip greens, oils, vinegar, salt and garlic. Blend until it comes together into a smooth paste. Taste for seasoning, feel free to add more vinegar, salt or sesame oil, depending on what you like.
Quarter the turnips, leaving a little bit of the stem attached so they are easier to dip with. Plate them halfway submerged in the dip and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds. Enjoy this refreshing crudités before dinner or as an afternoon snack. It tastes especially good when you are hot and sweaty from working in your garden.
Leaf Fennel Salsa Verde
I make salsa verde all of the time, it is one of my favorite sauces and one of the first sauces I learned to make. Sweet and tender leaf fennel tops make a delicious salsa verde to go over fresh fish, chicken, steak or quiche.
1 small shallot, finely diced
Enough vinegar to submerge the diced shallot
1 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
1 clove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or grated with a microplane
Enough good olive oil to submerge the chopped fennel fronds
This is a technique that can be applied to a multitude of ingredients. If you don’t have a shallot, use an onion, or a spring onion. Dice it as fine as you can and place it in a small bowl, submerge with vinegar. I love sherry and champagne vinegar but you can use whatever you think will best suit the meal you are making. For instance, if I am making tacos, I might use lime juice instead of vinegar, if I am making fish I might use lemon juice, if I’m making fried fish I might use malt vinegar, for steak I like sherry or red wine vinegar. Let the onions sit in the vinegar for at least ten minutes, up to an hour.
Place the finely chopped fennel fronds in a medium size bowl and submerge them in good olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and chopped capers and anchovies if you like those things. Slowly stir in the pickled shallot a little at a time, taste as you go. You want to balance the acidity and the flavors of the herbs and oil. Finish with a pinch of salt if you need to. This sauce is best right away. It will be good for a couple of days.