Sunday, 19 June 2011


When you're feeling miserable and have little appetite and are in no mood to cook, you can always eat a radish. They are almost not like food but are good for you. They grow from a grain to a radish in three weeks without much more care than a bit of weeding. I started in March and since then I've sown seeds every two weeks to make sure that I'm never without.
The Flamboyant is my usual choice and does very well in my soil and seems to survive the thrushes and slugs. Its got a soft heat,  is tender and firm with a little white cap below the soil line. The seeds are scattered here and there between other vegetables and fruit - all except the cabbage which has a certain dislike for their robustness.

Ready to pick and eat when their shoulders poke through the surface of the soil and are best eaten young and crisp with a cold butter mixed with their barely cooked peppery leaves and a little fleur of sea salt to dip in.
An instant aperitif to cleanse the palate and activate the appetite or served with any fatty meats is always a good idea.
The leaves are peppery and are the perfect replacement for watercress or rocket in a salad or stir fry.
I also sow the green and red meat variety as they are so beautiful to look at when sliced and impress any salad. They take a little more time to grow so they need their own space.

The Snake Radish is the weirdest of all but tastes quite delicious when young and fresh. A radish that grows from the flower on a bush into a fruit in the air and tastes like a radish without the soily taste. The pods grow to 20cm long and one bush produces prodigious quantities all summer long. Once they are a day or two old they become a fibrous and need to be pickled or left for the birds. Grow them near your carrots and they'll keep the carrot fly at bay.

Any suggestions of cooking a radish root should be ignored as the recipe writer is surely demented.
Slice them in a salad, mixed with mint, olive oil and lemon juice on a stifling hot summers day or when nothing seems to be right and you're missing the billy cat....

Radishes with Green Butter

1 bunch of radishes with their leaves still green and fresh
100g butter
A pinch of good sea salt
A pinch of Espelette chilli or just black pepper

Put the butter into a bowl and leave it in a warm place to soften.
Wash the radishes. Cut off the leaves 3cm above the radish and throw away all the yellowed or damaged ones. Trim the root ends.
Boil some water and dip the leaves into the hot water for literally 5 seconds. Rinse them in cold water and shake off all the water through a strainer. Chop very finely by hand or in a food processor. Strain again to remove all excess liquid.
Mix the butter with a wooden spoon and incorporate slowly the chopped leaves. Add the salt and chilli pepper. Keep the butter in the fridge until needed.
Serve with the radishes, a little fleur de sel and some good fresh bread.

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