Garden-fresh radishes, rich butter pique appetites

Laboring over a cheese platter recently rewarded me with a restaurant-quality spread. At least it was to my eye. Too bad the kitchen lighting didn’t produce a photo worthy of Instagram.

It helps, of course, to have a variety of attractive serving boards and platters from which to choose. On a natural stone slab, I arranged slices of Brie and Petit Basque on either side of a nice heap of tangy farmer cheese. Freshly chopped chives, good olive oil and chive blossoms gave it extra eye-appeal.

Because our guests — and, naturally, kids — were hungry during the lead-up to dinner, I set out the cheese board as an appetizer, although I consider cheese among a meal’s concluding courses. In the United States, plenty of restaurants offer cheese platters as appetizers, despite a richness that threatens to sate one’s appetite before the main course.

More in keeping with classic appetizers, while showcasing a charming serving vessel, is this pairing of compound butter and radishes, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. With a garden full of radishes, I’ll be making this for my next gathering. If you’re purchasing radishes, browse local farmers market for an interesting variety, including French breakfast, “Easter egg” and watermelon radishes. Radishes are cheap, relatively speaking, so feel free to splurge on high-end butter, either European-style or Rogue Creamery’s, and fine-quality sea salt.

Tribune News Service photo

Spring Radishes

2 bunches radishes with leaves (look for a variety of colors and sizes)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (get the fancy stuff), softened

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Kosher salt, to taste

Flaky salt, such as Maldon

Crusty rye or French bread, for serving (optional)

Wash and dry the radishes. Slice each in half from stem to root. Using kitchen scissors, trim root so it trails off decorously. Snip away most leaves, letting each radish retain a sprightly leaf or two or, alternatively, give it a short, spiky ’do. You want the impression that radishes recently sprang, freshly washed and cut, from the garden.

Drop the butter into bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon each of the chopped dill and parsley. Pour in 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Swirl until smooth. Taste. Add more herbs and lemon, if you like.

Find a big rustic cutting board or platter. Spread on butter in two or three dramatic swaths. Dot butter with radishes, cut sides down. Sprinkle composition with the flaky salt. Serve as is, or with warm bread.

Makes 4 appetizer servings.

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  • Blog Author

    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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