To my loyal friends and readers: you’ve probably noticed that my diet for the past four months has consisted largely of meats and carbs. Between the lasagna—and cake—and that week on instagram when I pushed Oprah’s miraculous new catchphrase, #ilovebread—it would seem that I’ve hardly eaten any vegetables at all.
But to let you in on a little secret, I’ve been eating a lot of radishes this winter. They’re cool, peppery and crunchy—three qualities that are impossibly hard to come by this time of year. And as a bonus to my no-waste policy, they also come equipped with a bunch of bright green leaves that are fresh and bitter—and delicious when sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
To me, radish greens taste like a lighter, more grassy (and less stalky) version of broccoli rabe. You can eat them raw if they’re plucked early on—but the longer a radish sits in the ground, the larger, more hearty—and more bitter—its leaves will be. Mature radish greens may even be a little spiky, especially if you grow them yourself or find them at a farmers market. The spikiness goes away the moment the greens are cooked, so please, don’t worry!
When you buy radishes, cut off the greens and store them separately to keep them from wilting (root crops can be greedy and leach all of the moisture from their greens). When it’s time for dinner, wash the greens, spin them dry, and throw them in a pan with some olive oil and a couple of smashed garlic cloves.
I ate this particular batch of greens with hummus, bread, thinly sliced radishes, and both gigantic cloves of garlic. And as I finished my meal in daylight, I took pleasure in knowing that spring is almost here! The vampires, on the other hand (assuming they do exist), will be keeping their distance for a long, long time.
These radish greens are light, springy and refreshingly bitter. Serve them with a hunk of bread and a small plate of hummus, cheeses and fresh veggies—or if you’re extra hungry, a juicy seared steak.
greens from one bunch of radishes (about 6-7 loosely packed cups)
2 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled with the back of a knife
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp water
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the radishes* away from their greens and reserve for another recipe.
Wash the greens and spin them dry using a salad spinner.
Heat the oil in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat until loose and shimmering, but not smoking (this should take about 1 minute). Throw the smashed garlic cloves into the pan, and toss them around for 1 minute, or until you begin to see lightly gold blisters.
Add the cleaned and dry radish greens to the pan, and sauté, stirring constantly for 1-1 1/2 minutes. The greens will be slightly wilted with a bright green color.
Add the water to the pan and continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes, or until the greens have softened and the water has evaporated.
Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
*When you buy radishes, cut off the greens and store them separately to keep them from wilting (root crops can be greedy and leach all of the moisture from their greens).