I’m gonna take a guess that you’ve always eaten your radishes fresh and raw, like in salads. I can certainly promise you that was the case for me up until just a couple of years ago. But then I began to cook them, and it was a whole new game. Like onions, cooked radishes release their bite to ease into a lovely, complex kind of sweetness with an entirely new set of flavors.
Here’s a little gift of a recipe from the great chef Mario Batali. Its name, Radishes Al Cartoccio, means that the radishes are wrapped and then cooked inside a package, in this case foil. I’ve also seen salmon cooked al cartoccio, as in this wonderful recipe from Cook for Your Life.
I even remember making burgers this way, as a kid. Preparations for going camping included a pile of packets consisting of hamburger patties from the previous year’s steer, thick slices of onion and green pepper, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. We placed them in the cooler for the ride, and then tossed them into the coals as soon as the fire was established. This was our traditional first evening meal while camping.
You can make all kinds of things al cartoccio — let your imagination steam away.
2 pounds large mixed radishes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. summer savory leaves, finely chopped (substitute fresh thyme if you want)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Cut two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, approx. 16 x 12-inch, and lay them out with the short ends toward you.
3. Combine the radishes, onions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and savory in a large bowl. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently and mix well.
4. Divide the mixture in two, placing half in the center of each piece of foil. Fold the short foil edges up and over the mixture, doubling over the edges twice to form a tight seal. Then fold up the side edges in the same way to form two tightly sealed packets.
5. Place both packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a large serving platter, and allow to rest for 10 minutes, unopened.
6. Bring the platter to the table, and then slice open the packets right at the table for dramatic effect. You can use tongs for the radishes, but remember to include a serving spoon to collect the juices.
Serves 8-10 (side dish).