At our best we are like a radish, which really means “rootish.” When our succulent, somewhat bitter, red, delicious underground soul is manifested, we are most ourselves and most creative.
As well as in the ground radishes are deeply rooted in the human history too. After originating in China they widely spread in the Middle Asia and Mediterranean where commonly stood in a place of money. Since the capitalism was obviously absent and consumerism was still too far in the future, food was almost the only thing that matter to people. It was the very basis of one's everyday life, making it easier to understand why the Ancient Egyptians indeed did not feel extremely disadvantaged to get some radishes in the exchange for their hard work building the pyramids. After all, both these things - the pyramids and the radishes - outlived the history and survived till nowadays, making at least a fractional equivalence of those two.
Later on, radishes were introduced to Greeks were where they were even more highly treasured. People tried not to forget to include them into the sacrificial for the Gods and even were making golden radish-shaped figurines to show the respect to this slightly bitter but very attractively pinkish vegetables. Moreover, besides constantly savoring them before and after the meal, people were also using radish-seed oil in a way that we are using the olive oil today.
Unfortunately, as the history turned into the Middle Ages and beyond, radishes began to lose their worship and praise. The world was about to become more globalized as well as more Utopian. The borders were being erased, the limits overridden, and the never-ending search for something new was thriving like never before. In that context, radishes, already consumed nearly in the whole world, were started to be taken for granted, while the radish-seed oil almost totally diminished from the habitual cooking and today is being produced and used mainly just in the Middle East.
When for me, those pink gorgeous are all about the spring. They pop up on the market stalls usually when we are still hiding behind the woolen scarfs and gloves, but that first appearance brings the hope. Of delightful warmth, sunshine and colorful days that are about to come.
However, I never use(d) radishes anyhow else but raw. Most of the time in the salad, but sometimes also just by themselves - washed, but not even cut into the wedges. In this way there is moment for sensing that fascinating mild bitterness and running juicy softness coming with every crunch of the bite. And even when a little sweet french-mannered girl tried to convince me that the best way to eat radishes is with salt and butter, after a long lesson I still remained stuck to my old-fashioned style of savoring these reddish roots.
Until today. When I discovered the striking deliciousness of roasted radishes. After the roasting they become silky and tender, the bitterness disappear and the flavor resembles a little bit the one of the sweet cucumber. Balsamic vinegar plays an incredible role in here too, and if you decide to use the flavored its version (this time I went for papayan), it will definitely give you even more striking results. After getting to them, the best way to eat those slightly seared radishes just the way they come out of the oven, but there is always and option for mixing a salad as well.
The meaning of life lies hidden in a grocer’s shop, in the vegetable section. There, you will find little heart-shaped, reddish roots that will fire up your salad and, with a little sacred imagination, display the secret of being both a poet and a human being.
Salad with Balsamic Roasted Radishes
for the roasted radishes:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
for the salad:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, slightly toasted
Wash and dry the radishes. Cut them into halfs or quarters and mix with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Put on the baking dish and bake in the 350 C (180 C) temperature oven for 20-25 minutes, until the radishes are tender.
For the salad, shred the lettuce leaves and mix with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the radishes, crumble the blue cheese and sprinkle with toasted seeds.