had the radish February 15, 2011

After what has seemed like an endless string of gray days, the sky has broken open here in Atlanta with cloudless skies and stunning sunsets. It’s been warm enough to have the patio door open, windows pushed forward, curtains pulled back. It’s been much needed – I’m in a bit of a rut this week. The same chunky sweater, the same black tights, sensible shoes that I would normally only wear to work. I’m feeling like I’m as bland and boring as the weather has been. My leaves need some sunlight, that’s for sure.

Puttering around the house working on posts to share with you towards the end of the week, my mind immediately went to these beautiful radishes I threw in the basket at the farmers market. Up until this point, they’ve been looking a little bedraggled with some wilty tops – I also spied the first English peas of the season already but that’s another post. This (often misunderstood) vegetable finally started feeling frisky again anticipating spring. I know how they feel.

Instead of doing my usual sliced radishes with butter (or whipped-up feta) on a piece of bread, I took the box grater after some of them. Mashing them into some room temperature butter and a little S&P, they made a great spread for a slice or two of dense, toasty pumpernickel. Just to lighten things up a bit, a quick salad of simply dressed watercress went right on top. I must say – please watch your fingers when grating a radish. The only color that should come from a grated radish is the perfectly pink skin. I say this because I care.

* A side note: the title of the post isn’t a typo or a sentence fragment. It’s an actual saying – allegedly originating in New England. It’s used like the phrase “cut the mustard”. Bet you didn’t know that!

Radish Butter Tartines – makes 4 large open faced sandwiches

  • 4 slices good quality dense pumpernickel or rye bread
  • 12 radishes – washed thoroughly and ends removed
  • 4 tablespoons good quality unsalted butter – softened to room temperature
  • a pinch each salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups watercress, washed and dried thoroughly
  • juice of one large lemon
  • a drizzle (2 tsp or so) good quality extra virgin olive oil

– Working on a stable surface or cutting board, grate the radishes. Scoop all the bits up and place in a small bowl. Mix in the softened butter with the tines of a fork. Add a pinch of salt & pepper and set aside.

– In another small bowl, add the watercress, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently but thoroughly and set aside. You want this well coated but not at all soggy.

– In your toaster/ toaster oven / preheated oven on a sheet pan, toast the bread lightly. While still warm, divide the radish butter spread between the four slices of bread. Top with a small handful of the dressed watercress. Serve immediately.


Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane Feb 15, 2011 07:02 pm

I feel your pain. We’ve had unusually warm weather in Northern CA and this week it’s like a hurricane about to hit. Sigh. On the bright side, radishes + watercress are two of my favorites, so this will definitely be included on my dinner party menu this weekend.

Enjoy the warmth!

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Sasa Feb 16, 2011 04:02 am

I hear you doll – I *really* need some sunlight on my face, glad you’re finally getting some ^_^ I just love idioms and stuff (geek, hehe) so love the title of the post.

SMITH BITES Feb 16, 2011 09:02 am

it’s been a loooonnnggggg winter here in Indiana so i am right there with you. the temps are finally warming up but the sun keeps playing hide-n-seek. i have a bunch of radishes to use and these tartines are calling my name!

Eliza Feb 16, 2011 10:02 am

Wonderful! I have made something similar–with the addition of a touch of sesame oil and grated ginger into the butter, topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh chives. Delish, either way!

Delishhh Feb 16, 2011 11:02 am

Totally understand the winder rut. I can’t wait for spring. I always feel like a new person then. Love Radish, i usually put them in my salad but never thought of putting them on your sandwich like this. Doesn’t it get spicy? Cool idea!

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Feb 16, 2011 02:02 pm

I can completely commiserate with you about the weather. It has been a long, dreary winter here, hasn’t it? Your little radish sandwich, on the other hand, looks as bright and cheerful as Spring herself. BTW, love the dish. I have a complete set just like that :-)

Terry at Blue Kitchen Feb 16, 2011 02:02 pm

What a delicious way to enjoy radishes—I’m sure the watercress adds its own peppery bite to the sandwiches. And the photo is gorgeous! But I especially enjoy learning the new (to me) expression. You of course sent me straight to Google, where I not only learned that “had the radish” means worn out, but also discovered an actual blog called Had The Radish!

Sophia Lee Feb 17, 2011 12:02 am

There’s a reason why there are more cases of depression in the winters! I’m lucky to live in sunny CA, but when I lived in DC, I always got very funked come Feb.

I really, really love your pictures though. You make a simple open-face sandwich look so elegant.

Plum Kitchen Feb 18, 2011 04:02 pm

Hi there, I have just found your blog via twitter, really beuatiful:) Planted a batch of radish plants yesterday so cant wait to make these (fingers crossed, my gardening is a bit hit & miss.). I feel bad now I have been complaining about the heat and humidity here, I hope your warm weather continues:)

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Samantha Nov 9, 2011 06:11 pm

So, since you’re so close to making this already, I have to mention this Eastern European recipe to you.

Its made with farmers cheese. I’ve seen farmer’s cheese in the regular grocery store (that wasn’t farmers cheese, at all.) But what you want is either the eastern european kind (usually Russian or Polish) or the kind made by Lifeway (usually sold in health food stores.)

You grate up some radishes like you did here, add that to the full container or farmers cheese. Add about 3-4 chopped green onions. Salt and pepper liberally. Finally, add about a half cup to a cup of sour cream and mix it all up. Its my most favorite go to snack and I usually eat it on a Polish rye or a German pumpernickel.


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