Zippy Radish Salad with Green Onions and Lemon Zest

Zesty, peppery, biting – the flavor of a freshly picked radish is anything but tame.  For this reason, many people tend to shy away from this surprisingly versatile veggie that also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.

I must admit, radishes hold a very special place in my heart.  On the night we were engaged, my husband Brandon and I ate at a farm to table restaurant in Door County, where we had a perfect appetizer of jewel-toned radishes served with smoked sea salt. In celebration of this simple, yet unforgettable dish, we served radishes as a starter at our wedding as well.  So yeah, I like radishes.

This weekend, my best pal and fellow dietetics student Chetney and I teamed up to do a cooking demonstration at our local farmers market.  We shared and handed out samples of two recipes that showcased some of the season’s best produce, donated by one of the market vendors, Kettle Rock Farm. Our “Zippy Radish Salad” was a big hit, as was the Kickin’ Kale Hummus that’ll be popping up on Chetney’s blog soon.  Under our paper lantern-adorned tent, we prepared this salad from scratch amidst eager market patrons and handed out samples, in response to which many people commented, “I don’t like radishes, but this is delicious!”

Here’s us all apron-ed out in between demos:

Chetney and I at the market

Not only are radishes de-lish, but they’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and some pretty amazing phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, which are also found in broccoli, kale, and the other cruciferous veggies we’ve all come to love.  Isothiocyanates (try saying that three times fast) are known to help rid the body of carcinogens and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by essentially causing them to self destruct. Read more about these fascinating compounds here.

But now onto the recipe: the reason this super-simple salad was beloved even by the radish-averse is because it tames the vegetable’s bite while allowing just enough of its “zip” to shine through.  It’s like that one perfect dress that plays up all your nice parts while hiding your less-favorite spots. The bulk of the salad is raw chopped radishes and green onions. The “dressing” is plain, whole milk yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  The creamy, tangy yogurt plays so well against the sharp flavors of onion and radish while lemon zest brightens everything to just the right flavor-hue to please nearly every palate.  Enjoy with all your favorite picnic foods this summer, replete with pride in your ability to say “isothiocyanates” with a mouthful of zippy radish salad!

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Zippy Radish Salad
serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups radishes, chopped into matchsticks
3-4 green onions, sliced into thin rounds, green and white parts
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp salt, added just before serving

Method:

Combine chopped radishes and green onions in a medium serving bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest and pepper in a separate bowl, then pour over vegetables and stir to combine. Just before serving, stir in salt.

Note: if you stir in the salt right away and allow the salad to sit before serving, the radishes will lost their crunch and the salad will become watery.

***Try adding chopped fresh dill, basil, mint or other seasonal herbs for a new flavorful twist!***

zippy radish salad

Nutrition Information – Thank you Chetney for calculating these out!
serving size = ¼ salad

Calories: 18
Fat: 1g
Carbohydrate: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 157mg
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 8% DV
Calcium: 4% DV
Iron: 8% DV

Red Leaf and Scallion Salad with Olive Bread Croutons & Feta

In the reflection of my laptop screen I can see thousands of leaves blowing in unison against a perfect ratio of cloud to sky.  With a quick change in focus I can see the words forming, black on white, a blog post, finally, after too many months of silence.

This summer rushed in and blessed me with a new job, a new home, and plenty of occasions for cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.  I’ve been tying up swimsuit strings, catching toads, and playing Candy Land with the two little girls I’ve nanny-ed for since June.  Also, I’ve picked out curtains for all the windows in our new apartment, organized my cookbooks on the nifty built-in bookshelves, and explored the neighborhood on new running routes with my husband as we train for our first half-marathon.  I’ve cooked and baked for birthdays and picnics and enjoyed every bite of my summer.

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

And now it’s time to dedicate some moments to sharing something here.  This week, I’ll offer up two humble summer salads. They’re eager for outdoor concerts, potlucks, or nights when the grill is off-duty.  I recommend chasing them with a bottle of red or white under the blue and cheers-ing every last drop of summer.

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

The first salad I’ll share is something I whipped up with the contents of our first CSA box.  It’s built on a tender mound of red leaf lettuce and dressed with a classic shallot vinaigrette – but there’s more to love – thinly sliced sweet-pungent scallions, crunchy rustic red peppers, salty feta, and… olive bread croutons(!!!).

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Red leaf and scallion salad with olive bread croutons and feta

ingredients:

half a loaf olive bread

head of leaf lettuce

4-5 scallions (green and white parts)

rustic red pepper (aka long pepper)

good feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

white wine vinegar

shallots or garlic

Dijon mustard

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Throw it together:

To make the croutons, I sliced day-old olive bread (you can use any kind of chewy, artisan bread) into 1 inch cubes. I put the bread cubes on a sheet pan, thinly coated them with olive oil, and baked for 10 minutes at 425° F.  *Check your croutons frequently*  We’re looking for browned edges with crispy outsides and chewy insides.  Friends, trust me on this, you’ve got to have the chewy insides.

From there, roughly chop up a head of leaf lettuce (mine was red, yours might be green, or purple!), thinly slice 4 or 5 scallions (aka green onions), and slice a rustic red pepper into strips.  Then, put all the veggies in a nice bowl, surround them with a halo of croutons, and top with feta.  (I also added toasted sunflower seeds after I took the photos.)

For the dressing, glug your preferred ratio of olive oil and vinegar into a jar with a tight fitting lid, mince some shallots or garlic and thow them in the pool.  Squirt in a dollop of Dijon mustard and grind in salt and pepper.  Shake the jar vigorously (with the lid on, silly!) until the dressing is emulsified.

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I served the dressing on the side so the croutons wouldn’t get soggy.  You can thank me later for their chewy insides.  😉

Lemony Kale Pesto with Walnuts

I wanted to write something profound about how I often miss the way I felt in church as a kid on Easter Sunday.  The way the trumpets and lilies and hymns stirred my kid soul and made me joyful.  I want to pay homage to those memories, those experiences, but couldn’t find exactly the right words to do so.  So I will simply offer that as a grown up, I’ve gladly realized closeness with the divine has no boundaries. We all just have to find our temples.

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No matter how you choose to celebrate it, Easter can mark a day of renewal, of rebirth.  Check in with your New Year’s resolutions.  Do some deep-belly breathing before you get out of bed.  Let the sun shine on your face for an extra minute or two.  See the beauty in being alive today.  Make a healthy meal to nourish your body and share it with loved ones to nourish your soul.

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I offer you this pesto recipe which you can whip up and use as the base for a springy salad to bring to tomorrow’s festivities.  In this way, you will effectively help counterbalance the salty ham, cheesy potatoes and Cadbury cream eggs.  Don’t even get me started on Peeps.

Lemony Kale and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is great on lots of things.  I used it as the dressing for a cold farro salad studded with golden raisins, currants, toasted walnuts, and chopped roasted red pepper.   Try it on your leftover hard-boiled Easter eggs.  Stir it generously into penne pasta, or slather it on boiled potatoes and throw in some chopped black olives for a quick, greened-up potato salad.

Ingredients:

2 bunches kale (any variety will work but let’s be honest, most of us prefer dinosaur, right?)

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup toasted walnuts or other nut of choice

Juice of one large lemon or two small guys

2/3 cup olive oil …ish

salt to taste

water as needed

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Method:

Bring a large (3  quart or bigger) pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Wash your kale.  Cut off the thick, lower portion of the stems and discard or save for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

Peel your garlic and drop the cloves into the boiling water.  This will take the bad-breath edge off, amazing!  Then throw all the chopped kale into the pot and use a wooden spoon to make sure everyone is dunked under the water.

Continue cooking kale for about 30 SECONDS, and then quickly retrieve it along with the garlic cloves using a slotted spoon or strainer and drain well.  Save the kale cooking water!

*blanching the kale in this way will denature the enzymes that will eventually turn your kale pesto that nasty shade of olive green/brown as well as tone down the “grassy” flavor, which is nice if you’re serving to a diverse audience (read: picky)*

Use a clean dish towel or paper towel to blot the kale dry and then put it all in a blender along with the garlic, grated cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until the consistency resembles a milk shake, adding some of the kale cooking water as needed to move things along.

Once you get the desired consistency, taste the pesto and add salt until it tastes just right.

Pour your pesto into a jar for later use or directly onto some farro or other hearty grain for a great salad/ side dish for your Easter feast!

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