Radishes, those cheering orbs of bright pink, are at their best now. They are, of course, in their element when simply salted and dipped in butter, but their vibrant tones and crisp, peppered flavour are worthy of playing centre stage, too. Witness these two very different sweet and sour salads; one raw and Turkish-inspired with pomegranate molasses, the other with roasted radishes, dates and preserved lemon, with the grassy green of fresh herbs offsetting the neon pink.
Radish, sumac and herb salad (pictured above)
You can use a mandoline or food processor to speed up the radish chopping. A mixture of honey and balsamic vinegar will stand in for the pomegranate molasses if you can’t get hold of it.
Prep 15 min
A few ice cubes
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp sumac
Salt and black pepper
1-2 springs mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Cut the radishes from their tops and wash both well, picking out any wilting or yellow leaves. Slice the radishes finely, with a mandoline if you have one, and put in a bowl of cold water with the ice, so that they crisp up.
Roughly chop about half the radish tops, keeping the others in the fridge to use another day.
In a small bowl, mix the pomegranate molasses with the oil, garlic and sumac, and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
When you are ready to eat, drain the radishes and pat dry, then put in a large bowl with the chopped radish tops and herbs. Pour over the dressing and toss, seasoning to taste with salt and pomegranate molasses. Serve immediately.
Roasted radishes with dates and preserved lemon
I use a mixture of red, white, purple and dip-dyed breakfast radishes here, but regular red ones will work perfectly. Leaving the tops on – if yours come with tops intact – adds a lovely crispness and extra texture.
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
8 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
100g skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 preserved lemons
1 small bunch parsley, picked and roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
Wash the radishes, picking off any wilted leaves but leaving on the ones that look good, and pat dry. Halve any big ones and tumble them on to a baking tray with the dates and almonds, some olive oil and a good pinch of salt.
Cut the preserved lemons in half. Scoop out and discard the insides, then finely chop the rinds and scatter over the tray.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, until just softened and starting to brown. When they’re ready, toss with the parsley and a little more olive oil, season to taste and serve.