Radishes are one of the first harbingers of spring at the farmers market. Spring radishes are also sweeter and more tender before the southern heat of Summer makes them pungent and a bit woody. For more than a month now I’ve been eating all and any radish varieties I can find at the farmers market. For a special treat I slather baguette slices with sweet butter, top with baby arugula and thinly sliced radishes, then sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I’ve also been making my annual early spring market salad of cheerful radish slices, some kind of still sweet regional oranges, whatever kind of onions are available, and arugula – often picked from my garden. I have written out a recipe to use as a guide for making your own version of this gorgeous and refreshing salad. If you can get fresh radishes you can’t go wrong.
About the ingredients:
- Early spring oranges are still sweet and juicy. In salads I often use naval, Valencia or the more dramatic blood oranges (if I can find them).
- Any kind of small radishes work well in the salad. I take every opportunity I can to use the mandolin my sweet husband brought back from E. Dehillerin in France almost 25 years ago and radish salad is no exception. The radishes look stunning when sliced paper thin with a mandolin, but they can be sliced by hand as well.
- Whenever baby Vidalia or any other onions appear at the market in March and early April I scoop them up for salads. There is actually a federal law that Vidalia Onions must be grown within 75 miles of Vidalia Georgia to be named Vidalia. Other “sweet” onions can still be found at the market though.
- I have purposefully made self seeding arugula a welcome weed in my garden. This gives me a year-round supply of my favorite spicy green. Like radishes, arugula is also sweet when small before turning a bit bitter as the season heats up. I have added edible arugula flowers to my salad, but they are really for show and tasty but not necessary.
- For this salad, I do not make a vinaigrette. All the ingredients are gently mixed by hand with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and served before the arugula wilts. Mixing by hand is the best way not to bruise delicate ingredients such as orange supremes.
- If you can find them in the supermarket or sprout your own, radish sprouts add a different kind of bite and crunch than radishes. I routinely bring back the 70s of my youth and sprout my own for salads and sandwiches.
When I was making the salad for this post our cat, named Kitty, moved from his usual sleeping spot and randomly jumped on the counter and sat on my cutting board. He looked so comfortable I took his picture. In the background you can see I was in the process of supreming a blood orange. When he jumped back to his snoozy spot, I returned to my usual compulsiveness and switched out the cutting board, scrubbed every inch of the counter then continued on in my salad making.
Radish, Orange, Spring Onion and Arugula Salad
5 medium or 4 large navel oranges
8 radishes, sliced as thin as possible into circles for round radishes and lengthwise for French radishes (use a mandolin if you have one)
½ red onion, cut in half and sliced thin OR ¼ cup scallions sliced thin
1 cup arugula leaves (if stems are longs, cut them off)
1 Tbs fresh mint leaves, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1 Tbs sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons extra virgin, olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs radish sprouts (optional)
- For each orange, cut the ends off and hold cut side up on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife or a serrated knife if your knife is not so sharp cut away the peel and white pith from the orange flesh. Start from the top of the orange. Next, hold orange in your hand over a medium bowl and carefully cut each section of orange between the membrane and the orange flesh to remove each segment. This is how you “supreme and orange” and the segments are also called supremes; which they are.
- Add the orange supremes, radishes, onion, arugula, mint, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and radish sprouts (if using) to the bowl. Gently combine; preferably with your hands.
- Stop and enjoy the beauty of the salad before serving immediately.