Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Radish, Scallion, and Sugar Snap Pea Salad

May Gray finally gave way to sunny skies the first weekend of June. I'm sure June Gloom is imminent so I took advantage of the balmy weather last Saturday to visit the Little Italy Mercato. I'm so tickled that it's back on Date St. where it originated. On that clear day at the corner of Date and State looking down the street the Bay was sparkling. It was just what the Chamber of Commerce ordered.

The vendors didn't disappoint either. Everywhere I looked--between the packed crowds of shoppers--was a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors of spring/summer produce. I couldn't help myself. I bought cherries and apricots from Smit Farms. I bought my favorite eggs, as well as green garlic and a huge Reed avocado from the Schaners. I indulged in breads and pastry from the Prager Brothers.

And then I stopped dead in my tracks at Maciel Family Farms' stall. I love this Bonsall farm run by Anthony and Adam Maciel and their siblings. Everything is always pristine and fresh and inviting. This week there were fava beans and beets. Stunning summer squash. Silky looking dill and a rainbow of chard.

But the radishes! This was no radish I could remember having seen before. Alongside bunches of flawless conventional and French breakfast radishes were long, vibrant magenta radishes that looked more like carrots.

And, Anthony Maciel told me, they are actually called carrot radishes--as well as Chinese and Dragon radishes. The radishes, which Maciel explained he first saw at a farmers market in Santa Barbara and then decided to grow, are crisp and mild. He suggested adding them to a salad or soup.

I bought a large bunch of these carrot radishes, along with the French breakfast radishes, and a container of gorgeous sugar snap peas--my favorites. Then I set about making a perky vinaigrette with the leaves that also featured the green garlic from Schaner Farms. It's so totally spring! I enjoyed it that night with a steamed artichoke.

The next day I made a simple crunchy salad with the radishes, sugar snap peas, and scallions. And tossed in some more radish leaves. Really--don't throw these away. If they're fresh and not slimy (as grocery store radish leaves tend to be), rinse them off and use them in salads, with sautéed vegetables, and even as the base (instead of basil) of pesto.

Green Garlic Radish Leaf Vinaigrette
(printable recipe)
Yield: 1 cup

1 stalk green garlic, trimmed and sliced
2 to 3 radish leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a mini prep food processor. Blend until pureed. Add olive oil and blend until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve on Radish, Scallion, and Sugar Snap Pea Salad--or other salad. Use as a dip for steamed artichokes.

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