The thought of preparing something with carrots and radishes doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of delectable eats. They’re not ingredients I’m excited utilizing in the kitchen. Carrots have a place, yes, in salads, crudités and as the starter for many dishes (soups, sauces, stocks), but very rarely is it the star. And radishes? Well, the extent to which I handle radishes is limited to slicing them up and adding them to salads and that was when I was a kid (prior to bagged salads being all the rage and the only lettuce available was your trusty ol’ iceberg).
But I wanted to take a stab at growing carrots this year (don’t they say, after all, that the carrot is the easiest vegetable to grow?). And I read that since carrots take forever to germinate, it is advisable to plant rows of radishes between the rows of carrots kind of like a marker since it only takes 30-45 days to harvest. So with the purchase of two varieties of carrots, I picked up some French breakfast radishes.
What I was quick to discover is how tiny carrot seeds are. And the fact that you have to sow them 1 inch apart makes this task….well, very challenging. Okay, almost impossible! But nothing that can’t be addressed when they start to germinate; you just “thin them out” to allow what’s left in the ground enough space to fully mature. And so we wait. And wait. (This was back in the middle of April!)
Up sprout the radishes and those are harvested. I even have time to plant another row of radishes…and those I harvest!
My neighbor (for whom I experience garden envy-her plot is HUGE and she never seems to have problems with her pepper plants) informed me that carrots are ready to be pulled when you can see a quarter of an inch of the carrot peeking out of the soil. This is true with radishes so I should have known better. So with that rule of green thumb (get it? I love puns!), I wait some more. By now I’m past the recommended 70 days to harvest date on the seed packet and I cannot wait any longer! So I start pulling.
I gotta give it to those carrot farmers. Those carrots you buy year-round in the store are, for the most part, uniform. My carrots?
They grew appendages. One even looked like a mutant hand digging into the earth. It’s plain to see why baby carrots are so readily available. Too many irregular carrots are harvested so they whittle them down to make these uniform and adorable smaller versions of the original.
So I quickly determined that I do not particularly care for radishes. The French breakfast radishes are milder than the other radishes you find at the store, but I still found them to be too peppery and bite-y. I thought of ways to subdue that spiciness.
From what I’ve researched, there are two prominent ways the French prepare them: quarter them and serve with room temperature butter and some salt- scoop, sprinkle, eat, repeat, or braise them in butter. Oh, how I LOVE French cuisine! Forget bacon. BUTTER makes it BETTER! For my first batch I wound up braising those babies in butter with a little salt. It was good. You can’t go wrong with that preparation, but I thought “What about pickling them?”
Of course! Pickled radishes and carrots. Ding! After referencing Epicurious, the website and app that archives recipes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet and a few other magazines, I found one worth doctoring up (Check it out here).
I doubled the recipe considering I have lots of veggies that need pickling and made some substitutions and additions: I used both rice vinegar and white wine vinegar, brown sugar instead of white sugar and I smashed a garlic clove and added a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes for some heat.
I love to eat in color! Veggies are so appealing to the eye. What do you think?
As for what I did with this pickled medley:
As for my readers who don’t prefer meat analogs, you could easily substitute the tempeh for seared ahi tuna or grilled chicken marinated in ginger, garlic, oil and soy sauce. Fresh, light and scrumptious!