My husband is in love with radishes. One year he planted them too early and was devastated when they failed to sprout. You’d think somebody had died.
But not everyone loves radishes. I see it as a kind of eccentricity to crave them like my husband does.
But I do buy a bunch now and then to make him happy. I never seem to be able to use them up though before they grow soft and spongy. Fortunately Dale is a bit of an eccentric himself (as many of us are), and he has invented some new recipes, ways to use radishes as sautéed vegetables with sugar snap peas and surprises in a hot potato salad.
See what you can do with the eccentric radish!
It happened again. I needed just one radish to garnish a plate. But you can’t buy only one radish. So I picked up one bunch. Their alizarin crimson color was so bright and cheery with a single little white root on the end. The red was made more intense because of the deep verdant green leaves. Cheered by the look of them, I picked up a second bunch and placed them in my grocery cart.
What was I going to do with all these radishes? I surfed the internet, consulted my cook books and food encyclopedia and turned up all matter of things to do with radishes. You can even make soup with their leaves!
First I did my garnish: cut off the leaves and root and laid it on my cutting board. With a paring knife, I made three cuts in a star pattern three-fourths of the way through the orb. Then I placed it into a bowl of iced water and went about my other business. In about an hour it had opened up just like a flower! Exactly what I needed for my garnish.
It takes only a few minutes to do a whole plate of them, then sprinkle them lightly with salt and serve them with other fresh vegetables for appetizers. They are really quite pretty.
I wanted to see what they would do for a potato salad. My ingredients were potatoes, celery, sliced radishes, green bell pepper, yellow mustard and mayonnaise. Pretty good.
Then I tried them in a warm potato salad. I boiled new red potatoes and sliced them. With their delicate skins, there was no need to peel them. Next I fried some bacon until crisp and set it aside, then chopped a red onion and sautéed it with some of the sliced radishes for about a minute. I sat the vegetables aside with the bacon. With one tablespoon of drippings, I made a roux with a tablespoon of flour, and then added a half cup of chicken stock. To that I added some grainy brown mustard plus a little Dijon mustard.
After adding more chicken stock until the sauce was creamy, I put everything back into the skillet along with some chopped parsley. I tasted it then, and to give it a little more bite, added salt, pepper and a little red wine vinegar. After warming for three or four minutes, the potato salad was perfect for a cold winter night.
Radishes show up in oriental food sometimes. I stir-fried sliced radishes with sugar snap peas to tenderize them a bit – only a minute. The next step was seasoning them with sesame oil and soy sauce and then frying it all for another minute. I tossed it all with some toasted sesame seed for added crunch. I liked that too.
Up till now, I have never found much to say about radishes. Now I rave about them!
Food for Thought:
A Radish is an eccentric vegetable, not only in the fact that it’s not concentric (try to make a radish roll like a ball), but also because it possesses an unordinary taste. It’s neither sweet nor sour, bland nor salty, but has a zippy “Ting” that makes your eyes open wide. You don’t usually think of radishes as a main dish or a dessert or even much of a side. It stands alone, and with three little knife cuts and an icy water bath, it turns into a flower.
The taste of a radish is not balanced, it just is. Once I tried to write a book on what seemed to me a profound truth: that balance was the answer to all problems—that Greek “golden mean.” But then I realized that if I continued to think this way, I would be ignoring man’s need for passion and zeal.
Eccentricity is the opposite of balance. To be eccentric is to deviate from what is usual, instead of customary. It’s to be whimsical or odd, to stand out. Often it has to do with zeal for a particular thing or cause. Eccentricity is a quality that brings change, hope and zest to our lives. What would we do without our passionate leaders and artists?
John the Baptist was nothing if he wasn’t extreme. He lived in the wilderness, wore the skins of animals and lived locusts and wild honey. He shouted in the desert “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” because he was God’s man.
Vincent Van Gogh painted over 300 paintings in his short life. Unrecognized, in some ways much alone, he couldn’t repudiate the passion God had given him for shape and color. He learned, therefore, to see more deeply than others. As a result of his zeal, we have his vibrant paintings that gives us better eyes to see ourselves.
Think about you know: the lady in the wheelchair that always boasts a huge flower, the choir director who dresses in full costume for every holiday that arrives; the protaganist who’s determined to kill a certain big white whale, the Dutch boy who sticks his finger in the dyke and holds back the sea all through the night.
We love these eccentric heroes much the way we love Jesus for his great passion for us. His was so great a love that he gave himself to die on an instrument of torture so we could fellowship forever with him. Could there be anything more out of the ordinary?
God has made each of us unique. So don’t be afraid of your own eccentricities. Let us be people who bring zest into people’s lives, that bring salt and zing. Did you ever think you’d want to be like a radish?
“She was able to laugh at his foibles with a secret admiration for the vigorous eccentricity of his character.”[Harold Acton]