Radishes, juicy tops are spring’s first garden gifts

So much seems to happen so quickly on the first truly warm days of spring.

The mint in my herb pot leafed out overnight, and the chives are showing their first tiny buds. The garden’s garlic and celery are growing lushly green while some other overwintered crops, like kale and collards, are flowering in a final attempt to seed themselves before being ripped unceremoniously from the beds.

Yet it’s still a season of hurry up and wait for gardeners like me, who anticipate yet another month before much in the way of vegetables can be claimed for the kitchen. Radishes, those easy-to-seed and soon-to-sprout roots, are one of our few saving graces.

I admit to undervaluing radishes in previous years, viewing them as good only for garnish or maybe a very small jar of quick pickles. But inspired by a story about repurposing vegetable tops, I’m vowing to make the most of this early-spring gift to gardeners. Indeed, the juicy tops constitute so much of the radish, that it’s a shame to feed them to the chickens.

So I’m putting this crostini, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, on my springtime menu, particularly where entertaining is concerned. These also would be lovely with Pacific pink shrimp, the topic of this blog’s previous post, in lieu of smoked salmon.

Tribune News Service photo

Radish, Salmon and Radish-Green Salsa Verde Toasts

2 cups radish greens, from approximately 2 bunches, chopped

1 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt, to taste

Zest and juice from 1 lemon

Zest and juice from 1 orange

4 ounces crème fraîche

4 slices whole-wheat or country white bread, toasted

4 ounces smoked salmon, more if desired

1 cup thinly sliced radishes

In a food processor or blender, combine the radish greens, cilantro, oil, garlic, a pinch of salt (or to taste), lemon zest and juice and orange zest and juice. Blend until smooth. This makes about 1 1/2 cups salsa verde.

Divide the crème fraîche among the toasted bread slices, spreading it evenly over each piece. Top with the salmon, followed by the radish slices. Drizzle or spoon over salsa verde and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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