TWENTY OR SO…
One of my favorite things to plant in the garden, and one of the first things in the garden that are ready to eat, are French Breakfast Radishes. I love the way the little round, brown seeds roll around in my palm while I make a shallow groove in the soil with my other hand. Then, one by one I drop the seeds into the dirt, about one inch apart, and then I gently brush a bit of soil back over the radish seeds before I start on the next row. I usually do about three rows at a time, planting more rows every couple of weeks. It’s only a few days before the little radish leaves pop up out of the dirt. They seem to double in size every couple of days until their fuchsia-colored flesh breaks through the soil.
Pulling radishes, or anything that we’ve grown, from the soil is obviously the most rewarding part of gardening. Most things that grow underground; carrots, onions, potatoes, leeks, etc. take a lot longer than three weeks before they’re ready to harvest. Radishes are ready in just about 21 days and are the first thing to harvest, and therefore my favorite. It is important to note that you should be aware who you harvest a radish in front of… my best friend was visiting a couple weeks ago with her two year old son who watched my pull one radish from the bed and proceeded to pull all of the radishes out of the soil when no one was looking. Luckily they were ready to harvest!
With twenty or so radishes coming into the kitchen at a time we are finding a variety of ways to use them. I’ve made Cilantro-Radish Salsa from the current issue of Bon Apettit; we slice them thinly and toss them into salads (with lettuce also from the garden!); we like to throw some in a bag alongside a small container of butter and Maldon salt to take along on picnics or hikes. The radish with butter and salt combo is probably my favorite way to enjoy radishes. That simple combination is probably the most classic and traditional way to serve them.
The first time I had radishes with butter was when Kyle and I were on our honeymoon in Paris. We went to a wonderful restaurant that our friend, BIll, had recommended called L’Affriole located at 17 rue Malar in the 7th Arrondissement, just a few blocks from the apartment we stay at when we’re there. The radishes were served alongside some freshly baked bread, flaky salt, and a small dish of black olive butter. Not only was it my first experience with this classic combination, but it was my first experience with French Breakfast radishes which are slender and long with a lovely bright color that fades to white at the tip.
There’s something about the butter and salt that cuts through the spiciness of the radishes, so you get to really enjoy the flavor of the radishes, with just a subtle bite to keep things interesting. Between the crazy amount of bread that Kyle is baking, and the number of beautiful radishes bursting from the garden, my favorite thing to make is toast with butter, radishes and salt. In essence this is another tartine (I told you I had more tartine recipes for you). These are the simplest things in the world to assemble… the challenge is keeping your kids from congregating around your plate with their mouths open like little birds and eating all of it before you can get any yourself. These little sandwiches make a wonderful breakfast, lunch, or snack!
slices of bread
radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced or julienned
Preheat your broiler. Smear a little butter on one side of the slices of bread, place them on a baking sheet, and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes, until they are golden brown.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool a little bit so the next spread of butter doesn’t melt completely. Smear a bit more butter on the cooled toasts, followed by a layer of radishes, and a sprinkle of salt.
RADISH, BUTTER AND SALT TARTINE