• Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

    CSA Tip—Another idea for mature arugula

    Last week I discussed ideas for using more mature arugula leaves.  I came across an intriguing recipe this week in the new Bon Appetit (October 2013) called arugula salsa verde (http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/arugula-salsa-verde)  It is similar to a pesto, but with a bit more zest.  Try it in soups/stews or with grilled meats/fish.

    Featured Item—Nero Tundo Radishes

    I wrote about radishes earlier in the season but would now like to focus more specifically on one unique variety called the Nero Tundo.  Nero Tundo is an heirloom variety of Spanish black radish. It is a globe-shaped root with black, chalky skin and crisp, white, peppery-hot flesh.  The leaves, especially when young, can be tender with a mild to fair “bite”.  Fairly new to United States markets, the Nero Tundo has long been popular in European countries, where it stars in both raw and cooked dishes.

    When grown to full size, Nero Tundo radishes are often larger than a typical radish.  Some folks opt to peel the skin, but I personally found the skin tender, even on the larger radishes.  However, because of their relatively large size, they are fairly easy to peel if desired.

    Radishes are so well known for their roots, that many folks don’t even realize the greens are edible.  In fact, supermarkets often trim up the roots and leave off the greens altogether.  This is a big shame, as radish greens are a fun, delicious, and highly nutritious vegetable.  When raw, I love their light peppery bite and their unique texture.  Cooked, they mellow and become almost indistinguishable from any other tender green.

    Radish roots and greens have a great nutritional profile.  While both the roots and the greens are quite high in Vitamin C, overall the greens contain higher amounts of vitamins, protein, calcium, fiber, and minerals.  Yet on their own, radish roots are about 94% water, almost fat free, contain no cholesterol, and provide important vitamins and minerals, which makes them a great healthful, low calorie food source.  Radishes, like other Brassica siblings, are high in antioxidant properties, including components that help fight various cancers.

    When choosing radishes, select roots that look crisp without holes, cracks, or soft spots. Radish tops should be bright green and crisp.  Avoid yellowed, limp, or blackened leaves.  When you bring your radishes home from the farm, immediately cut off the roots (leaving about an inch of stem) from the leaves and store the roots and leaves separately in plastic bags.  The reason for this is that the roots will draw water and nutrients from the leaves if they are left intact too long.  The roots will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, while the leaves should be used within 3-4 days.

    There is no doubt that raw Nero Tundo radishes are delicious, if a bit pungent.  Use them in salads, as crudités, on sandwiches, as a base for an hors d’oeuvre, or even as a topping for tacos, burritos, or soups/stews.

    If you happen to find the Nero Tundo variety a bit too spicy for your taste, think about cooking it.  Radishes become wonderfully sweet and succulent when cooked.  Try roasting or pan frying them (as in stir fry), or cooking them in a bit of braising liquid (like orange juice, broth, wine/spirits, olive oil).  They can also be steamed.

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    This salad recipe is adapted from a Bon Appetit, December 1996 recipe that we love to make for Christmas.  Since radish is the highlight vegetable, I decided try it with Nero Tundo radish roots, radish greens, and a bit of apple to balance the spice.  I enjoyed it.

    Dress this salad immediately before serving, as radish greens tend to wilt quite quickly.

    Nero Tundo Radish Salad with Bacon, Apple and Coriander                        Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

    – 1 small shallot, roughly chopped

    – 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    – 2 center cut bacon slices, chopped

    – 6 cups Nero Tundo radish greens, well washed, tough stems removed

    – 2 Nero Tundo radishes, thinly sliced and cut into half moon pieces

    – 1/2 tart apple, thinly sliced and cut into half moon pieces

    METHOD:

    1. In a small nonstick skillet, heat coriander seeds over medium-low heat, shaking pan frequently, until seeds are fragrant and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and turn out into a small bowl to cool.

    2. Return skillet to medium heat.  Add bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Reserve one-teaspoon bacon grease for dressing.

    3. Using a stationary or hand held blender, blend cooled coriander seeds, shallot, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and bacon grease until coriander seeds are well pulverized but not smooth.  Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.  (Dressing can be refrigerated for up to one day ahead.  Bring to room temperature and remix before serving).

    4. Toss dressing with greens in a large bowl (Go slowly and taste frequently.  You may not want to use all of the dressing).  Arrange greens on a plate.  Top with radishes, apples and bacon pieces.  Serve immediately.

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    Radish pesto was a bit of an experiment for me. But with a little lemon juice to brighten the flavor, and a touch of sugar to help balance the bitter elements, I liked it.  See below for a way to use this pesto in a fall vegetable pasta dish.

    Radish Leaf Pesto                                                                                    Makes 1 cup

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1 bunch radish greens, well washed and dried

    – 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

    – 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    – 3/4 teaspoon salt

    – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    – 1/2 teaspoon sugar

    – 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon

    METHOD:

    In a food processor, blend all ingredients except olive oil until well minced.  Gradually add olive oil through the feed tube until you get a pesto-like consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If not using immediately, cover top completely with plastic wrap and chill.

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    This pasta is particularly good with lots of winter squash in it, as the sweetness in the squash really balances the light bitter notes of the greens.  If you have two Delicata squash, by all means use them.  You can even use carnival squash (cut into 4 large pieces and roast separately, then cut into small bite-sized pieces).  If you don’t have two winter squash, the carrots are a good substitute.

    Rutabaga or turnip would work nicely as a substitute for the radishes if you do not wish to use them.

    Fall Vegetable Pasta with Radish Leaf Pesto                                                Serves 4-6

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1-2 medium Delicata squash (see note above), cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, and chopped into small bite sized pieces

    – 3 medium radish roots, cut into small bite-sized pieces

    – 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets

    – 6 medium carrots, (or a second winter quash) cut into small bite-sized pieces

    – 1 14.5-ounce box Barilla Plus bow tie pasta or pasta of choice

    – 1 recipe radish leaf pesto

    METHOD:

    1. Preheat oven to 400.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil.  Spray well with olive oil spray (or drizzle with olive oil).  Divide squash, cauliflower, radishes, and carrots between the two baking sheets.  Spray or drizzle well with olive oil.  Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for about 15-20 minutes, turning at least once, until vegetables are tender and caramelized.  Remove from oven.

    2. Place a large pot of salted water on high heat.  Once water is boiling add pasta and stir well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes.  Reserve one-cup pasta liquid.  Drain pasta.  Return pasta to pot and add roasted vegetables, pesto, and half of reserved pasta liquid.  Stir well.  Add more pasta liquid, as needed, to reach desired consistency.  Serve pasta hot, topped with additional Parmesan, if desired.

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