Radishes have been the darling of food photography of late, their fuchsia pink against bright white, their perfect pops of color adorning the plate. Your eye is drawn to radishes immediately in a photograph, eliciting a feeling of cool freshness and unmistakable crunch. They are often shaved and put atop salads and tacos. Sometimes they are pickled and placed on sandwiches or avocado toast. Radishes show up on cookbook covers, in magazine spreads and in my Instagram feed almost daily.
Earlier this week on a work trip, as I sat down to dinner reservations at Prune in New York City, the first thing to hit the table was two perky dishes of radishes, sliced in half, served with soft butter and pinch bowls of salt. We grabbed them with our fingers, swiped them through the butter and gingerly sprinkled them with salt before popping them over and over again into our mouths. Radishes seem to be following me everywhere, even across the country.
What many people don't know, and what took me years to figure out, is that cooked radishes are a thing, too. A lovely thing. They can be wonderful roasted or seared in a cast iron skillet. For this week's recipe, I tried them braised in balsamic vinegar with bacon and shallots. They are tender-crisp and delicate in flavor, their typical spicy bite mellowed by the braising. They would make an excellent, unexpected vegetable side dish.
Braised radishes with bacon and shallots
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound radishes (about two bunches), trimmed and sliced in half
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Push the bacon to the edge of the pan and place the radishes cut side down into the skillet. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Add the shallots to the pan and continue to cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 6 minutes or until the radishes are tender (cooking time will depend on the size of your radishes).
Remove the lid and allow to simmer 2 minutes longer, or until the juices thicken. Sprinkle with parsley and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed to taste. Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Her new book, "The Alaska from Scratch Cookbook," is available now. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.