Winter radishes, especially the black globes that are common in Russian cuisine, are not the crisp salad adornments most North Americans picture upon hearing the word “radish.” The whole idea of a black vegetable is, at first, a little off-putting for most. However, black winter radishes make great root cellar keepers that won’t get pithy even if kept for months. Plus, they are only black on the outside, with snow-white interiors, which adds a nice design element if cooking with presentation in mind. The only black radishes I’ve come across have been at a farmers market, of the ‘Round Black Spanish’ variety. They are tasty sliced raw and paired with a strong cheese and salt, but I prefer to mix them with other radishes of brighter colors and serve atop a bed of greens to make this warming winter side dish.
Black radishes, scrubbed Pink radishes, either round or cylindrical
Salt and pepper
If not already, top and tail all your radishes. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skins of the black radishes off in stripes, to create a “zebra-stripe” effect. You can also opt to get zany and do swirls or even peel words out of the skin as well. The black will not cook away, so you can definitely play with this neat feature and have fun with your dish’s presentation. Toss all the radishes with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste before arranging them on a baking sheet and placing them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Every 20 minutes or so, stir the radishes around and check their tenderness by piercing with a fork. I leave my radishes to roast a full hour, sometimes up to 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash and cut your salad greens into bite-size pieces. I love pairing this dish with cold-hardy spinach, to give a sweet crunch to offset the radishes. Set the greens out onto serving plates. Lay the roasted radishes, after they have finished cooking, on top of the bed of greens, and serve immediately while still hot.
Jennifer Kongsis the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitteror Google+.
Photo by Tim Nauman Photography