A couple of weeks ago I was thrilled to discover watermelon radishes at our local Saturday Morning Market. I snatched them up eagerly, because I had only ever seen them on television and was excited to have some of my very own.
It turns out, they are pretty much just like regular radishes in taste, just slightly milder. But the color is just so beautiful that they were begging me to be used. Unfortunately though, I can only eat so many salads, and so I was pressed to find some other use for them.
Having just read An Everlasting Meal, I remembered that pickling is an excellent way to preserve any vegetable and add great flavor to your food. So I julienned my radishes (because I shudder at the thought of mandolins) and consulted a number of internet sources to find the right pickling recipe. Turns out there is a common approach of equal parts vinegar and sugar (along with some salt and other spices), but there are also many variations which dilute the vinegar/sugar mixture with water. I prefer the undiluted version of just vinegar and sugar.
The fun thing about pickling is that you are quite free to experiment with flavors. You can use any vinegar:
White Wine, Red Wine, Apple Cider, Rice Wine, Balsamic, White Balsamic, standard white vinegar, etc
You can also flavor your pickling liquid with all kinds of things:
Citrus peels, ginger, bay leaf, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic, chiles, fresh herbs, etc
It’s pretty liberating to know you can do no wrong here and can basically pickle everything in your produce drawer until you’ve created your own signature pickle brine! Yum.
A little tip: Before you finalize your brine and pour it over your veg, dip your finger in (or a spoon) and taste it. You can determine whether it’s sweet enough, salty enough, vinegary enough— you get the picture.
You can use your pickled radishes on tacos, burgers, shredded bbq, salads, cocktails…the possibilities are vast. I love that the fresh crunchiness of the veggies is preserved, along with the color (the radishes dull a little because the bright pink color bleeds into the pickling brine). It’s a great way to use up vegetables that are not going to find their way into a meal otherwise. Once pickled, they last for months in your fridge, and (bonus!) look cute enough to be gifted.
I wish I had discovered this pickled radish recipe from Cookie and Kate earlier, but definitely plan on trying it next time, maybe without the water. I like the extra tangy taste.
Shortly after making pickled radishes, I discovered a delicious recipe from Ellie Krieger in her book You Have It Made, for an Herbed Salmon Salad. Similar concept to tuna salad, but with salmon.
Honestly, I’ve long searched for a decent recipe utilizing canned salmon, because I love salmon, and to my surprise, this recipe was better than decent—my husband and I couldn’t stop eating it. It was so fresh tasting (which is unexpected for a canned product). We both agreed that it was best compared to a ceviche; wonderfully light fresh seafood taste with bright acid flavors and crunchy veggies. This is my version, which uses pickled radishes rather than fresh.
This also makes a lovely party appetizer, served with crackers.
Herbed Salmon Salad
2 (5 or 6 oz.) cans solid skinless, boneless salmon, drained*
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 cup diced, pickled radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (I didn’t have chives, and it still tasted great)
2 Tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
3 Tablespoons EVOO
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
Place the salmon in a large bowl and flake it into small pieces with a fork. Add the celery, radishes, parsley, chives, and capers and toss to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salmon, add the mayonnaise and stir until evenly combined.
If you feel it needs a bit more dressing, just add a spoonful of mayo or a splash of olive oil or a dab of dijon, or a squeeze of lemon, or all four until you get the right consistency. I served it atop crackers, but if bread for sandwiches is more your style, that would be good too, maybe toasted.
Serves 2-3 as an entree
Serves 6 as an appetizer
*Buy good quality canned salmon. Look at the ingredients and make sure it is just salmon, salt, and either water or olive oil. Avoid added ingredients like vegetable juice/stock which in my opinion has no business there. Color added isn’t ideal but I can live with it. I used this. Later I discovered that Trader Joe’s carries boneless, skinless, wild pink salmon, and the ONLY ingredient is salmon! Plus it was twenty cents less than the bumblebee brand.