I’m not ashamed to admit that there are foods I eat mostly because they’re pretty. This time of year, those foods are called radishes. Red radishes, watermelon radishes, Easter egg radishes in shades of pastel; they all get my heart eyes. I’ve taken about a million photographs of them to prove my to point to you with this post. (Please enjoy.)
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the peppery bite of a springtime radish. (Give me a bit of salty butter and a drizzle of honey to complement it and layer the whole deal onto a slice of fresh bread and I’ll be very happy.) But I appreciate the stark white flesh and bright red skin of a radish even more than the taste. A few thinly sliced radishes on top of a bed of arugula or pea shoots? A taco with a radish confetti dotting the top? A cheese plate with a freshly washed bunch of radishes perched on the edge? Radishes in dainty tea sandwiches? So dang pretty.
But here’s the problem: I have a tendency to let a half-bunch of radishes languish in the fridge. I get gung-ho about how beautiful my weekend salad looks with radishes strewn on top, but before I know it it’s midweek and we’re rushing to get anything on the table. No one’s concerned about garnishes.
But a jar of pickled radishes? Now we’ve taken the pretty factor, upped the taste factor, and prolonged the shelf life a bit and it’s a whole new ballgame. For me, the addition of vinegar and spices + heat + time takes the radish from being pleasant enough to straight-up addictive.
More radishes, sliced.
Vinegar and spices, ready to boil.
Vinegar, ready to pour.
Like most quick pickles, the process is simple. No need to devote an afternoon to canning in the kitchen. You can pickle these babies in a few minutes and have them stealing the show by dinnertime. This recipe is a variation on just about every quick pickle recipe out there. Specifically, I consulted the Sunday Suppers’ pickled red onion recipe for vinegar ratio encouragement and then adjusted the seasonings to taste.
Here’s what you need:
A bunch of radishes (any sort’ll do)
1.5 cups white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (or honey!)
Spices (I used fennel, coriander, and black pepper)
Here’s what to do:
1. Scrub your radishes and thinly slice them into even rounds. If you’re very fancy and have a mandoline, now is the time to put her to use. Otherwise, flex your knife skills and don’t worry too much if some slices are a little wonky. (Some folks like a thick radish pickle and choose to quarter their little gem babies. I prefer a nice round slice.)
2. In a small non-reactive saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar (or honey), salt, and your choice of spices to a boil. For spices, I used fennel, coriander, and black pepper-just a little pinch or so of each for a small jar. Experiment! Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove the vinegar from the heat.
3. While the vinegar cools, pack a clean jar with sliced radishes. If you want to add a fresh pepper to the jar for some heat, a few springs of dill, or a clove or four of garlic, now’s your chance.
4. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture (spices included) over your radishes. Seal up the jar and pop ‘er in the fridge. Ideally, let the mixture gel for a day to really infuse those radishes with some tangy goodness. But don’t fret if you’re in a rush. The other night I put together a jar (didn’t even bother heating the vinegar, hey!) in the 15 minutes before dinner was served and the results were still super satisfying. The radishes should stay fresh in the fridge for a few weeks.
Note: Radishes are pungent little guys. The odor when you open your jar will smack you a little hard in the nose, but power through and taste those babies. So good. Also! Your pickles will turn totally pink as they sit in the brine. Pink!
For the curious: my little enamelware pot.
Now your turn: favorite pretty thing to eat?