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Eric Akis: Four fancy ways to serve radishes

Radishes are delicious right out of the fridge, sprinkled with a little salt. But here are four fancy, but simple, ways to serve this crunchy, spicy spring vegetable.
Ways to serve radishes, from left: sautéed with beans; radish top aioli; with butter and salt; and pickled. ERIC AKIS

When I was a kid, my mother would often keep a big bowl of trimmed radishes chilling in water in the fridge for my brother and I to snack on before dinner, sprinkled with a bit of salt.

I still eat radishes that way, but as an adult I’ve learned many other simple, tasty ways to enjoy them, including a more fanciful, French-style way of serving them with salt.

That dish, as shown in today’s photo, is thrown together by serving radishes with unsalted, room-temperature butter and a small bowl of flaked sea salt. Before eating the radishes, you lightly coat them in the butter and then sprinkle them with, or dip them in, the salt. The result is a decadent radish appetizer, where the salt and the butter richly enhance the flavour of the sometimes spicy radishes.

Below are three other ways to use in-season B.C. radishes, including one recipe that uses the green leafy radish tops.

Radish Top Aioli

Radish tops (leaves) give this garlicky aioli a hint of earthy, spiciness and a rich green colour. The aioli can be served as a dip for raw vegetables, used as a sandwich spread, or dolloped alongside seafood.

Preparation time: five minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: about 1 1/8 cups

1 1/2 cups radish tops (leaves), washed well and dried

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 large, or 2 small to medium, garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

• salt to taste

Place radish tops, mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Season with salt, if desired. Transfer aioli to a tight sealing jar and refrigerate until needed. It will keep a few days in the refrigerator.

Green Beans with Sautéed Radishes and Walnuts

Here’s a colourful vegetable side dish you could serve alongside such things as fish, pork or chicken.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: About five minutes

Makes: Four servings

1 Tbsp butter

2 tsp olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced radishes

225 grams green beans, trimmed and blanched (see Note)

1/3 cup walnut pieces

1 tsp honey

1 tsp lemon juice

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

Place butter and oil in a large skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. When butter is melted and no longer foaming, add the radishes and cook and sauté 90 seconds. Add the green beans and walnuts to the skillet and cook two to three minutes more, or until beans are hot. Toss in the honey and lemon juice, season beans and radishes with salt and pepper, and serve.

Note: To blanch beans, plunge into a pot of boiling water and cook two minutes. Drain well, cool beans with ice-cold water, and then drain well again.

Quick Pickled Radishes with Ginger

Here’s a quick way to pickle sliced radishes that you can serve as condiment with such things as charcuterie plates, Asian foods, avocado toast, fish burgers and sandwiches.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about two minutes

Makes: one cup

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup thinly sliced radishes

Place water, vinegar, sugar, ginger and salt in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and cool vinegar mixture to room temperature.

Place the radishes in a 1-cup (250-mL) jar. Pour vinegar mixture over the radishes, pushing down on them to ensure they are submerged by it. Cover and refrigerate until needed. It will keep several days in the refrigerator.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.