With stalls filled with every manner of spring greens—ruby-red radishes, thick mounds of asparagus and more—my husband and I made our way through the local farmer’s market this past Saturday. We’d just finished watching the series Netflix series Chef’s Table. A documentary about six chefs from around the world—the mountains of Sweden, Manhattan, Patagonia, Los Angeles, New Zealand and Italy—the series focused on an extreme challenge each of them faced in their careers and how they overcame them. Argentine chef Frances Mallmann rose to the height of his profession while cooking in Paris only to learn that he felt empty cooking only for extremely wealthy customers, while Niki Nakayama, who faced all manner of prejudice being a woman in a man’s world, found herself burnt out once her now closed sushi restaurant was a success. They, and the others profiled, eventually triumphed in their careers. Not only did they build new, successful restaurants but each created entirely new cuisines. While they live worlds apart, I was struck by the similarities in their approaches and personalities. Hard workers, intensely creative, they all value using the highest quality ingredients available or that they could create. They took ancient cooking methods, such as cooking underground with extremely high heat, and made them modern. They valued the work that goes in creating a food chain and showed it by using all parts of the ingredients at hand and shaping them in a way that maintains their integrity.
Inspired by these grand chefs, I created this Crispy Radish Salad with Aioli and Fresh Herbs. Often tossed away, radish greens have a sharp flavor of their own that is perfect in combination with spicy radishes cut into paper-thin rounds. Available year round, tossing them both with season fresh herbs makes the salad perfect for the moment. Lightly dressed with aioli—a classic French garlicky mayonnaise—elevates this simple dish to an instant European classic. Enjoy it with a cold bottle of white wine, a platter of local cheeses and a loaf of bread for a light and elegant meal.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Crispy Radish Salad with Aioli & Fresh Herbs
Yield: 4 Servings
For the aioli:
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- ½ cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 2 cups radish greens, rinsed, trimmed and torn
- ¼ cup assorted herbs (basil, oregano, tarragon or your choice), rinsed, trimmed and lightly chopped as needed
- 8 radishes, rinsed, trimmed and cut into thin rounds
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chopped garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Continue whisking while you drizzle the olive oil into the bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the salad.
- Divide the radish greens between 4 serving plates. Sprinkle the chopped herbs on top of the greens. Place the radish rounds decoratively on top of the greens. Drizzle with the prepared a aioli. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve and enjoy.
- The aioli can be made in a food processor, if you prefer.
- For a heartier salad, consider topping with avocado slices, grilled seafood, some croutons or grated Parmesan cheese.
- Consider doubling the amount of aioli you prepare. It is immensely versatile and will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days. Drizzle it on Simple Roasted Asparagus or A Market Morning Salad. Use it as a dip for fresh veggies or Fragrant Onion Rolls.
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