Braised Radishes (w/ bacon or browned butter)

First appeared on CAFE newsletter January 12, 2020

Edited by: Ellie Sharp

In the middle of the winter, finding colorful crunch is hard without the beautiful radish! Most people put radishes in salad. While they certainly are a tasty, crunchy addition to a salad, there are other ways to use them! The most common way is to simply dip them in soft butter and sprinkle with salt. Seriously, don’t knock it until you try it! If you can’t quite swallow that, you can spread some bread with a (thick) layer of butter, then a layer of radish, then top with salt (black salt pictured). Don’t forget about the tops too! They are thinly sliced and placed on top of the radish sandwich here, but radish tops make an excellent addition to homemade pesto and soups (think in place of spinach, kale, or mustard/turnip greens!).

Perhaps though, my favorite way to prepare radishes is to cook them. They are wonderful roasted on pan amongst other vegetables (like potatoes or squash). I’m a big fan of “sheet pan meals” and love to throw potatoes, radishes, broccoli, and some local sausages on a pan to roast and call it dinner! But I want to leave you with a very tasty addition to your recipe box. Braised Radishes. I hope you try it and love it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon OR ¼ cup butter
  • 2 bunches of radishes, about 1 pound, or about 14 radishes
  • 3 large shallots or a small red onion, sliced and 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Water or chicken/vegetable stock 2TB-1/4 cup
  • Italian parsley, leaves chopped into about scant ¼ cup
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Trim away bottoms of radishes. You can keep nice looking greens intact or remove and save for another use (or compost!). Slice each radish in half from top to bottom. Peel the shallots and slice into thin rings.
  2. Cook the chopped bacon in a large heavy skillet – preferably cast iron. When the bacon is crisped remove from skillet and set aside. If you need to, drain some fat away. You should have enough bacon fat covering the skillet (about 1-3 Tablespoons). OR melt butter in pan. Over low, allow butter to cook until small bits start to brown on the bottom of the pan ~3 minutes.  
  3. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they start to brown slightly. Move to the outside of the skillet, away from heat. Add the radishes, placing each cut side down in the skillet. Let them cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms just start to color.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and some water/stock – the liquid should just come up around the sides of the radishes. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and continue to simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until the water has reduced into a syrupy sauce. Add the parsley/herb of choice and sauté for about a minute or two, until it’s wilted.
  6. If using, add the bacon back in and season with salt and pepper. Serve over grits!

Beet and Brown Rice Salad

Music: Jimmy Cliff, “The Harder They Come” – A little summertime music for a summertime meal!
Menu: Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar grilled pork chops, and Kate’s green beans with mint.

As promised, another beet recipe. I’m serious about learning to like these nutrient-packed, bright-red, crazy little buggers. Guess what? It worked this time!! This salad is so, so, so good. My sister was weary and she had a friend over that also looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him if he liked beets. But everyone at the table asked for seconds, I know, I was stunned too. This recipe is actually pretty simple. There is not a lot of hands on time. Best part: you cut the beet before it cooks, reducing the murder-like scene that usually happens after roasting a beet to only cut up right after. There was still a bit of red, but I used an extra plastic cutting board I have a kept the mess concentrated to that and my hand.


After the last experience with beets, I was determined to try again, knowing that if I could find the right flavor combos, I would love ’em. The next quest came after an epic trip to our local farmer’s market. The above picture contains one bag of purchases from a farm just outside the city. Ready for this one….everything pictured was $5. Organic, local produce, and all $5. If I would have gone to the supermarket and tried to grab all this produce, looking for local and organic, my guess is that I would have spent somewhere in the range of $7-8. Organic veggies price tags are harsh. I admit, I rarely venture over to the organic bin, unless I see big yellow sale tags. Even then, I usually cannot meet the price. So, if you’re in the same boat, but local and check out some farmer’s markets in your area.

Enjoy your beets and I hope this one converts you as it has me 🙂

Beet and Brown Rice Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown basmati, or other brown rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • S & P
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts*
  • 2 tspn. EVOO
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 4 medium red beets or about 1 pound without greens, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tspn. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish*
  • 2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) soft goat cheese, crumbled*

* I used pecans, cilantro, and feta cheese because I had those things on hand. It still came out incredible and I didn’t have to make a special trip to the store and spend extra money to make the recipe exactly as printed.

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in rice, bay leaf, and salt; cover. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered.
  2. Meanwhile, toast pine nuts/pecans in oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until nuts are just browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer nuts with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onions and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add beets and 1 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until beets are tender, about 25 minutes (if beets stick to skillet, add up to 1/4 cup water).
  4. Remove bay leaf from rice. Stir rice, half of pine nuts, the lemon zest, and parsley into beet mixture. Transfer to a platter. Top with remaining pine nuts and the goat cheese. Garnish with parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beet and Cucumber Relish with Grilled Asparagus

Music: Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Live in Stockholm” – This year marks the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking release of their song, “Take Five.” What was and still remains to be so amazing is that this was not only a jazz song that became a popular success, but that it is in the unique and somewhat awkward time signature of 5/4. For all of you non-musicians out there, this is the equivalent of a 5 legged horse winning the Kentucky Derby and then going on to win the following season of “Dancing with the Stars.” NPR highlights the story here.

Menu: Grilled pork loin (not tenderloin, give it a try…it’s the spare rib vs. baby back argument and we always side on the loin and spare rib side), and the relish and grilled asparagus


So, my dad HATED beets. I don’t think that hate is a strong enough word. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t go near the suckers. Because of this, I have never tasted one. I have been seeing so many yummy recipes popping up everywhere with beets. So, we’re trying them! I figured this would be a good intro – roasted beets in a dressing with one of my favorite veggies of all times, grilled asparagus.

The recipe was good. Not great, but good. It needed a little something more…maybe a little feta sprinkled on top. It was definitely enough to spark my interest in beets though. I am going to try some more recipes and figure out how I like ’em. I must admit, the earthy taste, smooth texture, and fantastic color is hard to resist. Anyone have suggestions for beets? What’s your fave recipe?

Beet and Cucumber Relish with Grilled Asparagus
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium red beets, greens removed
  • 1 cup english cucumber, diced
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2 tspn balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tspn EVOO
  • S & P
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Wrap beets in foil and cook for 45 – 1 hour until a fork comes out easily.
  2. Once cool, trim beets, and remove skin (a paper towel helps, jut rub skin and it comes off). Dice beets into 1/2 inch pieces and place in medium bowl. Add rest of ingredients, excluding asparagus and stir to combine. Can be made 2 hours in advance and chill in refrigerator.
  3. Preheat grill until hot and ready. Toss asparagus with EVOO and S & P. Add asparagus to well greased grill and cook, turning once, 4 – 8 minutes, depending on thickness.
  4. To serve, pile asparagus on plate and top with beet and cucumber relish. Serve immediately.

Braised Leeks


I really LOVE leeks. If you have never cooked with them, I highly recommend that you start. They have this mild onion-y flavor that I cannot get enough of. They can be a pain in the ass to prepare, but here’s what ya do! Just as the picture above demonstrates, trim the gnarly bottom of roots. You really only use the white and light green parts, so chop off all the dark green tops. Slice the leek in half, longways. After this you can do two things: first, you can slice the leek into little half moon shapes and place in a bowl full of water (the dirt will fall to the bottom and at the top you will clean leeks ready to cook; or second, you can place the long half slice under running water, using your fingers to separate the layers of the leek allowing the water to get between each layer and wash away the dirt. I use both techniques depending on how much I am preparing or how I am preparing it 🙂But really, I LOVE leeks. I mean potato leek soup, sauteed leeks under fish (with lots of butter), one of my fave recipes, which I will have to share later a leek, corn, and bacon skillet…they are awesome companions to mushrooms and fresh herbs. But I guess you get the point: I love leeks and want you to love them too! So when I came across this recipe for braised leeks, I immediately went the the store to buy leeks galore.


Braised Leeks with Warm Pancetta Dressing
From Cooking Light – March 2008

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cleaned
  • S & P
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, cut into (3-inch) pieces – or a few baby carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tspn. EVOO
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pancetta or 2 pieces of bacon
  • 2 TB finely chopped leek
  • 2 TB light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • S & P

Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare leeks, arrange leek halves in an 8-inch baking dish; sprinkle evenly with S & P. Add broth, carrot, garlic, and thyme.
3. Cut 1 (8-inch) square of parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Place parchment over leek mixture, coated side down.
4. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until leeks are tender. Let stand 5 minutes; drain cooking liquid through a sieve over a bowl, reserving solids.
5. Place cooking liquid in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup or about 8 minutes.
6. Chop cooked carrot and garlic; set aside.
7. To prepare dressing, heat EVOO in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp.
8. Stir in garlic and chopped leek; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. Sprinkle with sugar; sauté 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.
10. Stir in vinegar; simmer 2 minutes.
11. Add braising liquid, S & P; simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from heat.
12. Arrange leek halves in a serving dish; sprinkle with carrot. Drizzle pancetta mixture over leek halves.

Menu: Roasted Salmon with herb and parmesan topping and old world rice pilaf (with beans!)
Music: Nina Simone. Album: Put a Spell on You, specifically the song “Feelin Good,” you know the one that Michael Buble did too. You can get it on itunes. I recommend a bottle of wine, too. Nina makes you want to drink a good glass of wine, always.