Summer is finally here in New England and I couldn’t be more excited. For me, the start of summer doesn’t correspond with a date on the calendar, a particular holiday, or even the weather. Summer truly begins when I come home to that first veggie CSA pickup. After a long winter of root vegetables, potatoes, and sad grocery store tomatoes, the box full of greens, strawberries, spring onions, and radishes makes me so thrilled. We were all so excited that when that first box arrived, we consumed its entire contents in 3 days flat. I think that might be a new record of vegetable consumption for us.
With our second box, I was determined to eat every single thing in the hopes of making our veggies last longer than 3 days. I thought I remembered reading that you can eat radish greens so I hit the internet in search of some inspiration. Turns out, radish greens are absolutely edible and many bloggers sing the virtues of sautéed radish greens and radish green pesto. Unfortunately I had just made a nice batch of pesto using fresh peas, Italian basil, and Thai basil. After doing a bit more searching I decided to create more of a pickle / brined radish leaf dish to use as a condiment on top of some polenta slices.
Turns out, this is an easy and really delicious way to use radish leaves. The brine softens the leaves and imparts a nice pickled flavor but still allows the flavor of the greens to come through. Even better, the whole thing takes minutes to pull together and can sit in the fridge for a day if needed. So instead of tossing your radish greens, try this recipe and see if it doesn’t convert you to a greens lover*.
Pickled Radish Greens
1 large or 2 small bunches of radish greens
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rice vinegar (white wine vinegar would work too)
1-2 dried hot chilies, snipped into pieces
Sesame oil, for drizzling
Wash the greens very well in several changes of cold water. Radish greens tend to be very dirty so err on the side of over-washing so they aren’t gritty. Once they are clean, spin them dry and remove the tough (and sometimes spiny) stems. Coarsely chop the leaves and place them in a small bowl along with the chilies.
In a measuring cup (or another small bowl) mix together the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar, stirring until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the greens and let sit on the counter for at least 3o minutes (toss it in the fridge if you are going to let it sit longer).
Drain the liquid and drizzle the greens with toasted sesame oil. Toss gently to combine and serve.
Serve as you would any Asian-style pickle… on top of rice, on a burger, alongside a piece of meat, or just eat it from the bowl. The beauty of this preparation is that it seems to take the bitterness and sharpness out of the greens while still leaving their earthy flavor.
* Or at the very least, you can enjoy the weird stares people give you when you tell them you ate pickled radish greens