Sunday, May 16, 2010

Radish Greens for Breakfast

Now, I already know what you're thinking. Radishes can be difficult enough so early in the day, but greens? Who even knew you could eat radish greens - or would want to? But prepared with smoky bacon and sweet onion and then used to fill an omelette... now you're talking tasty.

The first time I saw radish greens, they were not appetizing. I wasn't much of a radish fan either. Radishes purchased for geekMan (who LOVES radishes) sat in the fridge for a spell, and the leaves melted into slimy blankets for the radishes. Not. Appetizing.

Spring forward a few years and introduce radishes from our CSA at Tipi, and we can't get enough of them.

These are some seriously tasty radishes. Slice, add a hint of sea salt, and they are actually sweet. Yes, you read that correctly. Sweet. Crunchy. Cold. Really a treat in the spring after a winter of heavy veg. It got me thinking about the greens, and what a shame it would be to waste them.

Growing up, greens were not the menu. Salads of various lettuces, yes (I have a memory of my father harvesting dandelions from the lawn one year - everyone thought he was nuts, but isn't that always what they say about the visionaries?). We didn't eat "greens" though. I learned to love greens living in the South during graduate school. Cooked for long periods with smoked ham parts and served with vinegar. Mmmm mmm! It works best for tough greens like kale. And these radish greens were tender enough to eat raw, if a bit bitter for my taste. Enter the seasoning favorite of good applewood smoked bacon and some sweet Vidalia onion, and it's about perfect.

CSA use score: we used all the radish greens and a couple stalks of the green garlic. Oh, and a couple radishes. 

Omelette with Radish Greens in Bacon and Sweet Onion
Serves 2
You could use this to fill an omelette or a crepe, even add into the eggy part and make a quiche-like dish (around here we call them veggie pies). Amounts are approximate; a couple notes after the recipe might be helpful too.

3-4 rashers of good applewood smoked bacon (we like Usingers or Nueskes), diced fine
2 stalks green garlic (white parts only) or 1 large clove garlic, minced
1 quarter medium sized sweet Vidalia onion, diced fine
1.5-2oz radish leaves, rinsed well and destemmed (see below)

4-5 eggs, beaten well
2-3T half & half
1oz grated Mimolette cheese (see below)
butter for pan (we use a non-stick, but it still needs butter.... oh well ;-)
Put a medium-sized heavy pan over moderate heat. Add bacon; stir to break up. Cook until beginning to render and getting soft. Add onion and garlic; stir to combine. Continue cooking over medium heat until bacon gains color and onions soften and begin to color some. Add radish leaves. Stir to combine. They will wilt and lose volume quickly. Turn off heat after they are completely wilted into the bacon/onion mixture. Set aside.
Heat butter in large non-stick omelette pan (or cast-iron, or whatever you use for eggs). Beat together eggs and half & half. When butter is melted and slightly foamy, add eggs. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. As bottom sets, gently pull in eggs from the sides and allow uncooked liquid egg to spread out and cook. When omelette is almost cooked (it should still be a little wet on top), sprinkle with cheese. Add radish leaf/bacon mixture to one half of omelette. Gently fold over, and allow to set. This omelette is large enough to two. You can cut it in half; geekMan & I generally use one plate and two forks - it's cozier that way. Good served with slices of fresh radish.

Radish leaves, destemmed
Generally grown in sandy soil, the leaves will need to be rinsed well to get rid of grit. We like to use the bottom of our salad spinner with the basket - you can lift the greens right out of the water. Uses less that a whole sink full of water too. They have a bit of stem, and are tastier without them.

Mimolette cheese
We first encountered this cheese at the Flying Elephants Deli in Portland, Oregon (food souvenir score!). It has a nice nutty flavor that's a good alternative to parmesan. Nowadays we can sometimes find it locally, maybe at Outpost Natural Foods or the West Allis Cheese Shop.

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