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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gilding the Radish

The radish. Some would say it has a taste only a mother could love...or in my case, a grandmother. I remember my Nana loved a good radish, plain and unadulterated. Though I tried to enjoy this colorful little vegetable numerous times, the peppery taste always stopped me from eating more than one or two at a time, and usually in a salad with lots of dressing for disguise. Yet radishes are worthy of a second - or third, look because their roots and leaves are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and trace minerals.

Since radishes have been included in recent CSA farm shares, and I just pulled the last of them from my garden, I was determined to find a way to enjoy this often overlooked veggie. While browsing through some online recipes, I came across one for glazed radishes. This sounded like an intriguing way to camouflage the radish's peppery bite. Then my thoughts naturally turned from glaze to maple glaze, which then flowed to maple pecan glaze. Hence, the recipe Glazed Maple Pecan Radishes was born...but would it meet my dreamy expectations?

I am happy to report that I was very pleased with the resulting taste. Even my vegetable-skeptical family ate this concoction and enjoyed it. By cooking the radishes while reducing the glaze - actually an accidental effect of adding too much water, their peppery harshness was tamed to a pleasant, light accent. The cooked radishes had the texture of less-crunchy water chestnuts, which contrasted nicely with the crispness of the toasted pecans. All-in-all, this pairing made a delicious topping for the steamed salmon we had, though I can imagine it would also be great over grilled chicken breasts. I reduced it a little more than I would have liked, so there wasn't very much liquid glaze to coat the fish. Next time I will stop the cooking process before most of the water has dissipated to leave more glaze for the meat.

The recipe:

Glazed Maple Pecan Radishes

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 cups chopped or sliced radishes (mine were peeled and sliced)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Coarsely chop ½ cup pecans or use 1/2 cup pre-chopped pecans. Lay pieces in a baking pan in a single layer and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 4 minutes or until pecans start to brown. Set aside.

Peel and slice or coarsely chop radishes to make 2 cups. (I peeled mine because they were large and the skin was a little tough.)

In a saucepan or medium-sized frying pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the radishes, maple syrup, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir to coat. Cook on medium until the liquid starts to bubble, stirring periodically. Continue to gently boil until the liquid has reduced in volume by about two-thirds and the radishes are starting to get translucent. The glaze will be thickening. You can cook until there is as much or as little liquid left as you prefer. Reduce heat to low, add the pecans, and stir to coat. Cook for an additional minute or two. Remove from heat and serve over your main dish of choice, or eat as a side dish.

A sweet glaze remains after reducing the water

Served over steamed salmon and with oven-roasted broccoli

To roast broccoli:

preheat oven to 400 degrees

clean and trim broccoli into small florets

coat bottom of small baking dish with olive oil

place broccoli in a shallow baking dish and
drizzle with olive oil

sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion powder

toss broccoli to coat with oil and spices

roast in oven for about 15 minutes
or until broccoli is lightly browned


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