Don't throw out those radish greens. They have a zingy, peppery bite and are highly nutritious. This simple recipe is infinitely adaptable, depending on which veggies you have around. You might like diced bell pepper, carrots or leeks, for example. Of course, you can always add a protein source, such as grilled shrimp or chicken, too. Serves 4 to 6
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch radishes with fresh-looking greens still attached
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound fettucine, linguine or other pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Handful whole radishes, with their greens, split in half lengthwise
Spicy red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
Slice the radishes into bite-sized pieces, and roughly chop their greens. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium-high. This is a good time to bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil. When it begins to boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, add the butter to the skillet, followed by the onions. Sauté the onions for a minute or two, then add the garlic and radishes. (Do not add the radish greens yet). Sauté the onion-garlic-radish mixture for a few minutes more, until the radishes are soft. Stir in the peas and radish greens.
Strain the pasta and add it, along with about a tablespoon of its cooking water, to the skillet with the sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the pasta, and keep the pan warm on the stovetop or in a 200-degree oven for a few minutes. (If you are adept at multitasking, you can actually begin the next step sooner.)
Bring about half an inch of cooking oil to high heat in a heavy-bottom skillet, such as a cast iron pan. When a drop of water instantly sizzles, add the radishes and fry them for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side, until the radishes are golden brown and crispy. Their greens will be extremely cripsy; this is what you want. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the fried radishes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Pour the pasta into a serving platter, and arrange the flash-fried radishes over the top. Serve the pepper flakes and grated cheese in separate bowls so that each person can sprinkle them on to his or her liking.
Photo by Tim Nauman Photography.