I love the crunch of radishes. It's a sound that resonates with all the radish-lovers in my family especially my mother, the biggest lover of the crunchy root vegetable. I learned to love radishes form her. At first I didn't appreciate their mild, earthy flavor, but then I came to love them more for their watery crunch. Then I discovered they could also be spicy and peppery. I have been an aficionado for many years now. Every spring I look for the best and brightest ones.
Radishes are best enjoyed raw, sliced thinly, and served alongside cold meats and charcuterie. From my mom I learned to eat my radishes on a bed of blue cheese and butter spread on crusty bread. With her in mind, I created this spread/dip that includes chopped chives for a bit of onion flavor. The dip works great with crudités as well. Here I serve the dip with a selection of crackers and of course the radishes.
In my search at the Greenmarket a few weeks ago, I found the most colorful varieties: Purple Plum, Pink Beauty, Ping Pong, Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast. I had to stop myself from buying a bunch of each, but I ended up choosing the bright Purple Plum. It's a variety that supposedly stays fresh longer and is a bit spicier than the regular Cherry Belle radishes, which is the common variety found in markets.
When shopping for radishes, look for firm roots and bright, unwilted greens. Stay away form radishes that look old as they can be pithy. Once home from the market, trim the greens and roots, and scrub them clean. Store the radishes in a tub of water, which will help them stay crisp. This is a tip I learned from my uncle. Change the soaking liquid every other day and the radishes should keep for up to one week.
Blue Cheese and Butter Spread
6 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons chopped chives
In a small bowl, combine cheese and butter. Mash with a fork until it is thoroughly combined. Add chives and mix until incorporated. Serve with thinly sliced radishes. Yield: 1 cup.