Radish Quinoa Salad

I was in the City last night, meeting the girls for drinks on the Rooftop Garden at the Met (as if the views from the roof weren’t reason enough, the Roxy Paine exhibit is outstanding and worth a visit), followed by a picnic dinner along the Hudson.  Since we were picnicing, and I had a big bunch of radishes from this week’s first CSA of the season, I decided to make a quick & easy radish salad.

Hudson River at night.

Hudson River at night.

Radishes are one of those things that no one seems to know what to do with; sure, you can slice them and add them raw to salads, but other than that, what?  I never thought that I really liked radishes until I started eating locally; radishes are the first vegetable that shows up in the spring that is crunchy, and crisp, and brilliantly pinky-red!  It’s an epiphany.  Since then I’ve experimented with finding lovely things to do with radishes; the best of these experiments end up here. 

The method for cooking the quinoa here seems a bit fussy, but it really makes all the difference in the world: steaming the quinoa (after softening in boiling water) yields fluffy, dry, separate grains that really take up the salad dressing. I adapted the method from this black bean quinoa salad recipe from Gourmet and I haven’t looked back since. With the tangy lime & cumin dressing, crisp, crunchy, pink! radishes, and fluffy quinoa, this salad was quite refreshing and earned rave reviews from the girls – even Bubba enjoyed it!

Bubba, ready for her close-up.

Bubba, ready for her close-up.

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Radish Quinoa Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 large bunch radishes (about 1 lb), scrubbed, stem and root ends trimmed, halved or quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 – 8 tbsp olive oil

METHODS

  1. In a large bowl, wash quinoa in 2 or 3 changes of cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle, until the water runs clear.  Drain in a fine sieve.  Bring about 2 inches of salted water to boil in a medium saucepan (one that fits a steamer or heat-safe sieve for steaming). Add quinoa and cook, at a low boil, until nearly tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water.  Bring about 1 inch of clean water to boil in the saucepan; transfer quinoa to a steamer basket set above the level of the water (or use the sieve and cover with a kitchen towel and the pot lid). Steam quinoa until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile combine radishes, scallions and parsley in a large bowl. Toss to mix.
  3. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk together with a fork.  Drizzle in olive oil, whisking and tasting as you go, until the dressing reaches a taste and consistency that you like (I used about 6 tbsp olive oil, but you may prefer more or less). Taste and adjust cumin, salt or pepper as needed.
  4. Add quinoa to radishes and toss to mix. Add about half of the dressing; mix well. Taste, and continue to add dressing to your taste (I generally use all of it, as the quinoa absorbs quite a bit). Serve, alone as a side salad, or on top of greens as a main dish salad.

Serves about 8 as a side dish, 4 – 6 as a main course.

OPTIONS

  1. If you don’t have scallions on hand, one small shallot or about 1/4 cup of red onion, diced, would work.
  2. Try swapping in other herbs: cilantro, thyme or summer savory all seem like good choices.
  3. Couscous, Israeli couscous or orzo all seem like good substitutes for quinoa.

STORE

The dressed radish salad can be stored in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, although it will be best within 4 hours of making.

SEASON

Radishes are at their peak in the spring, but often re-appear in farmer’s markets in the fall.  Parsley and scallions are generally available during the whole growing season and often through the winter.

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8 comments

  1. The New York Times had them featured in a salad with sugar snap peas and ricotta salata last week.

    Wait till watermelon radishes start coming in. They’re a marvelous color — stunning pink flesh with creamy off-white skin.

  2. Kim

    I’ve been OBSESSED with radishes recently. They always remind me of that old fairy tale where the pregnant lady craves radishes and makes her husband dig them out of the garden (something bad happens, of course). I’ve determined if I have children I shall make my husband bring me radishes while I’m pregnant.

    I’ve been eating them on sandwiches, with a strong flavored bread (I liked pumpernickel), fresh lettuce and hummus. They’re also good on… crostini! With some soft spreadable cheese and chives. Yum Yum!

  3. localkitchen

    Actually my favorite way to eat radishes is the French way; just eat them raw, washed, ends trimmed and then dipped in melted butter and a little salt. This works best with the tiny spring radishes – totally delicious!

  4. What I love best is that they are the first things to jump out of the garden! That’s a great salad, and beautiful photos. Can’t wait for my radishes to come up so I can try it!

  5. Sounds great! I love radishes. I can’t for them to be ready. Salted radish/butter sandwiches. Mmm.
    My dad eats radish/peanut butter sandwiches and I can never decide if that is disgusting or genius. I should just try it.
    Anyway- I’m making this as soon as the radishes are ready for picking!

  6. Sandra

    I have served this dish twice within the last two weeks. The first to my husband and two kids then at a barbeque over the weekend. Both times it was a BIG hit!

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