Jim Hillibish: First taste of spring
If Mother Nature cooperates, we’ll have green onions in our gardens soon — that is if the winter loosens its grip. Then come those morsels of peppery spring sweetness, the radishes.
These guys give us first tastes of spring. Early onions always are the sweetest of the season without the peppery hint of summer ones. Radishes, red and icicle, garnish many a salad. Ever had them braised? If not, you’re missing something.
Both are root crops, consumed throughout the world, and add a tang to whatever they touch. They are best early in the season grown in cool ground. Both turn hot and bolt to seed in the heat of summer.
Recipes call for winter, bunching, scallions or Welsh onions. They are all the same family — green onions. They will be in good supply in groceries at low prices due to the harvest.
The 35 varieties of radishes are of Greek origin, often marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and served as a side dish to seafood.
Many of our mothers had both wrong. They blamed the green part of the onions for gas and indigestion, so they cut it off and used only the white tip. The green causes no more problems than the white and is a good source of vitamins and that mild onion flavor so many of us crave.
Radishes caught similar digestive accusations, all undeserved.
We face competition for these first crops. Green onions and radishes are common to the cuisine of more than 35 countries, from fresh in salads to roasted on the grill. Many Asian dishes call for them.
GREEN ONION SOUP
• 2 cups potatoes, cooled, peeled, diced
• 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
• 2 cups green onions, tops included, chopped
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 2 t light soy sauce
• 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 t sugar
• 1 t paprika
• Dash cayenne pepper
• 1 t dill weed
• Salt to taste
Sauté vegetables in olive oil until soft. Add seasonings and broth and blend until smooth. Simmer 20 minutes or until the flavors meld. Serve with Parmesan croutons or garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.
Serves 3 to 4 as an appetizer.
SWEET AND SOUR GLAZED RADISHES
• 2 bunches radishes, any variety
• 1 T butter
• 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
• 2 T white vinegar
• 2 t sugar
• Salt to taste
Rinse radishes and remove stems and roots. Trim and slice crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Stem and wash leaves and finely chop to 2 tablespoons.
Melt butter, add radishes and sauté, stirring, until they begin to soften, 5 minutes. Add the broth. Cover and simmer until the radishes are crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to high, and add the vinegar, sugar and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped leaves and serve.
Jim Hillibish is a columnist at The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.