Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Salad with Beet and Black Radish

Last weekend, my culinary experiences were forcibly broadened when a black radish was foisted upon me by my very own mother.

I had, until that moment, considered my mother to be a rather mild-mannered and gentle purveyor of food-related provisions, offering the occasional overabundance of Meyer lemons or pears or sweet potatoes to take back with us to Sacramento, or a spare pair of turnips leftover from their CSA box. Such gifts were suggested casually, and could be accepted or declined with no particular emotional consequence.

Not so with the black radish (or radishes, to be precise), which were prepackaged and waiting on the dining room table when I walked in the door of my parents' house last Saturday. The radishes were offered to me with a period at the end of the sentence, rather than a question mark, that stated an incontrovertible transition of ownership rather than a query about the radishes' future abode.
I was taking them with me.

I asked (I had not fully grasped, at this point, the severity of the situation) whether this black radish was the same kind of black radish I had heard certain negative things about several weeks before (namely "usually I love our CSA box, but eughgrh, that black radish...I don't know why anyone would plant those").

It was the same black radish. More alarmingly, I became aware that this revelation in no way changed the fact that I was taking the black radishes with me, and that this fact was as immune to future argumentation as my failed attempts as a child to acquire a kitten or (as I recall, my second choice) a baby sister. My mom looked at me. I could tell she felt a touch of compassion -- after all, she too had once owned a black radish. She tried to look encouraging, in an I-hope-you-don't-suffer-too-greatly-while-eating-your-black-radish kind of way. "Anyway," she said. "You're always taking new ingredients and figuring out recipes for them on your blog. So consider this a new ingredient."

In other words, I was issued a Black Radish Challenge. Here are the results. The bite of the radish offset the sweetness of the beets, and made for a perfect springtime lunch. Thanks, mom. :)

Several big handfuls of mixed baby greens
1 medium beet, peeled and grated
1 black radish, halved, thinly sliced, then cut crosswise into matchsticks (about 1/2 cup, or sub red radishes)
6 quail eggs, boiled for just under 3 minutes, peeled, and halved (or sub 1-2 hardboiled chicken eggs)

A couple generous glugs of olive oil
1 smallish spoonful grainy mustard
2 spoonfuls sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the olive oil, mustard, and vinegar together in a large bowl to form an emulsion (it should be thick but not sludgy -- adjust the amount of olive oil as needed). Stir in the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Next, fold in the beets and toss to coat evenly, then add in the salad greens and toss until the beets are evenly distributed and the greens are lightly coated with vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (there should be just a hint of rosemary, without it being overpowering).

Arrange the greens on plates, sprinkle with radish, and top with the egg and a bit of extra black pepper.

Serves 2 for a light lunch or side salad.

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