Local Food Spotlight
When it comes to buying food, summer screams for regular visits to your local growers’ market.
May and June have been cooler, wetter and windier than usual in New Mexico, and that means that some cool weather crops that have usually disappeared by now – like many radishes and turnips – are still available at area markets.
Radishes often get ignored but what happens when you buy beautiful, fresh and local? Can you lift the humble radish experience so that it defies expectations? The answer is undeniably yes.
First, buying local means you will likely see many varieties. These may include:
• Black Spanish: round with black skin and white inside, they’re a bit spicy and great alongside a dark beer and dark bread.
• Cherry Belle: round and red, usually found in grocery stores, great in salads.
• Daikon: a Chinese radish that looks like a big white carrot, it has mild flavor and is great shredded in fresh vegetable rolls.
• French Breakfast: oblong in shape, pink with a white tip, they are extra-crunchy with a mild, but slightly pungent flavor.
• Fire and Ice: oblong with bright red on the top and white on the bottom, with a sweet, mild, delicate taste.
• Ostergruss Rosa: A dark-rose, carrot-shaped radish with white interior and sweet and peppery flavor.
• Watermelon: an heirloom variety of the daikon radish with white or green skin, and bright purple/pink flesh that make them beautiful to serve with their mild, less peppery taste (available later in summer).
• White beauty: a small, round white radish with a sweet juicy flavor.
Often the first crop ready in the spring garden, some varieties like watermelon and black radishes won’t be ready until August. If you’re shopping at the Downtown Albuquerque Growers’ Market in Robinson Park (8 a.m.-noon Saturdays), a few growers that you might spot with gorgeous radishes are Fred Berger, Joseph Alfaro and Molly Medenhall.
Berger, of Shy Ky Farms in Lemitar and Soccorro, says his radishes are spicier than usual because of the winds. By late June he still expects to have cherry belle
and ostergruss rosa, or red daikon. These large, dark-pink radishes are common in Germany, and you can use them in recipes, or just slice them and eat them on brown bread with butter.
Alfaro, Agricultural Coordinator Director of Organicos farm in Albuquerque’s South Valley, loves growing radishes, a crop that takes only 21 days from seed to harvest. All of Alfaro’s vegetables are organic, and he says his customers usually buy radishes
for adding nutrition, color and crunch to their salads.
Medenhall, proprietor of Four Moons Farm in Los Lunas, grows a large variety of produce, all of which are pesticide-free. Try her radishes, beets or bunched greens and you will taste the difference that local can make!
Denise Miller is executive director of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association. Visit FarmersMarketsNM.org.
SWEET & SOUR RADISH AND BOK CHOY STIR-FRY
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon honey
1 medium head bok choy (or 3-4 baby bok choy)
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 bunch radishes, quartered, or halved if small (1¾ cups)
½ cup green onions
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chopped cashews, optional
Whisk together orange juice, rice vinegar, cornstarch, soy sauce and honey in small bowl; set aside.
Cut greens from bok choy and keep separate from stems. Cut stems into ½-inch slices (you should have about 4½ cups).
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add radishes and cook, without stirring, 3 minutes. Add bok choy stems and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cup green onions, and sauté 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté 1 minute. Add bok choy greens and salt, and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Stir orange juice sauce again to ensure it remains thoroughly mixed. Add sauce to pan and stir well to coat.
Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon chopped cashews (if using) and 1 teaspoon green-onion greens.
– Recipe adapted from vegetariantimes.com
QUICK PICKLED RADISHES (AND OTHER VEGETABLES!)
Makes 2 quarts
Enough fresh, raw veggies to fill two, one-quart size mason jars (about 5-6 cups)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
6-10 cloves garlic, sliced thickly
½ onion sliced (optional)
Few sprigs fresh dill (optional) or other herbs
Other optional additions (whole cloves, dill seeds, whole allspice, fresh ginger slices, fresh chiles or chile flakes, celery seeds, peppercorns, other fresh herbs)
FOR PICKLING LIQUID:
2 cups vinegar (white, red wine, rice wine or apple cider or a combination)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4-6 tablespoons sugar
Wash and prep the vegetables (good choices are radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cucumbers, beets, peppers, green beans). Consider how best to highlight their uniqueness. Slice, quarter or cut into spears, or leave whole (like with green beans, asparagus, okra, etc.)
Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a small pot.
In two, quart-size mason jars (or whatever sizes you have) divide the garlic and whole spices.
Begin adding the prepped veggies along with any fresh herbs you would like to add, leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot liquid into the jars, making sure to submerge all the veggies, pressing down on them with the end of a wooden spoon. Make sure the liquid completely covers the veggies leaving at least a half inch of room between the liquid and lid.
Cover and let sit on the counter to cool, and after an hour or two, place in the refrigerator. These will taste good after 6-8 hours, but much better after a couple days.
Pickled vegetables will last up to three weeks.
– Adapted from feastingathome.com