I never realized how much I love crunchy things until I got braces. Now all I want is our everyday greens salad with lots of roasted almonds, barely cooked carrots steamed in butter, and fragrant cranberry, oat, and almond cookies—texture, in other words. And then there are the fibrous, hearty greens, which take a lot of effort to chew these days and which I therefore end up swallowing mostly whole. But instead of moping about all the things I can’t eat, I’m trying to focus on everything I still get to comfortably chew. Recently I made a lemon cream tart from the newly updated Tartine book, which is tart, creamy, and sweet in all the right ways. One weekend at the new Cat & Cloud in Santa Cruz, I ate some of Bailey’s chocolate croissant, and then later used a knife and fork to work my way through 4 slices of Taz’s delicious sourdough pizza (it may have taken me twice as long as everyone else, but it’s still a win in my book). So really, it’s not so bad. Cooking and eating just takes a little more planning on my part.
Part of what makes meal planning tough for me is that I want to ensure variety in our diet—both for our own mental wellbeing (having the same dishes every week can really take a toll on one’s happiness) and to better nourish our bodies. Finding recipes that are simultaneously exciting, filling, compatible with other dishes, good to eat for lunch, and delicious isn’t always easy. Now it’s even harder, because things generally have to be relatively soft for me. And sometimes experimenting with new dishes doesn’t pay off; there have been many times I’ve tried a recipe and found that it just didn’t work for us. Those leftovers are the hardest to get through. But I pride myself on being adventurous with cooking—I’m not afraid to cook a whole fish, or try a lesser-loved vegetable (like rutabaga or kohlrabi)—and when that adventurous nature pays off it’s extra sweet. Trying roasted radishes, when I’d only had them raw before, was one of those experiments-gone-right.
I can’t take the credit for thinking of this one—Alison Roman put me onto cooking radishes, and my herb butter is a simpler version of her Green Goddess butter. When radishes are roasted in the oven, their leaves get shatteringly crisp and salty, and the radishes themselves become tender (but still retain a little crunch). So yes, I can still eat this dish, though I have to cook the radishes a little bit longer than I truly want to. Fortunately, they still taste amazing that way!
Roasted Radishes with Herb Butter
2 bunches tiny radishes with super perky, vibrant leaves
1/2–1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, mashed with a little salt or finely minced
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper
juice of half a lemon
Drizzle a little olive oil over a large baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Pluck any dying or yellowing leaves off of the radishes and discard. Slice larger radishes in half (or quarters, if they’re quite large), trying to keep some leaves on each half. Pile the radishes and their attached leaves in a salad spinner or large bowl. Cover with cold water and swish them around a bit so that most of the dirt comes off. Leave for a minute so the dirt can fall to the bottom. Drain, then repeat the filling, swishing, and draining until the water looks clear (2 to 3 times total). Spin the radishes lightly (or shake) to dry and scatter them evenly across your oiled baking sheet.
Drizzle the radishes with a bit of olive oil (if I had to guess, I’d say around 1/4 cup, but don’t be afraid to just drizzle), making sure each one is coated with a little bit of oil. Crack some black pepper on top and sprinkle evenly with salt (it will vary depending on how many radishes are in your bunch, so use your home-cook senses, being sure each radish and leaf has been sprinkled lightly with salt).
Roast for 12 minutes, then stir or toss the radishes around a bit and roast for another 4–6 minutes or so, until the leaves are crisp and the radishes are cooked to your preference.
While the radishes roast, stir the chopped parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper into the butter until fully combined.* Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, spread the butter across the bottom of a large dish. Pile the slightly cooled radishes on top and sprinkle with the juice of half a lemon. Alternatively, spread a spoonful of herb butter across each plate and top with a serving of the radishes.
*Feel free to add any other chopped herbs at this point.