It’s fucking hot right now.
Every time I walk outside it’s like the heat has strapped me down and the stifling humidity waterboards me until I confess that you know what? I don’t really need (insert life essential item here) this weekend…I hail my forever, undying allegiance to the A/C just please take me back to my
Enhanced interrogation metaphors aside, this weather can’t help but remind of one of my favorite late summer vegetable preps, al umido. I first made this dish in Rome with fagiolini corallo (aka romano beans) and was immediately enamored with the preparation because it was not only simple and delicious, but also insanely practical because you don’t have to stand near the hot stove the whole time you’re cooking it. It allows you to stand near other things too…like your air conditioner.
You literally just let it cook and cook and cook…and cook some more. Basically once the beans reach a certain level while cooking, it’s like the process of undercooked to cooked to overcooked restarts. It’s like the beans enters a vortex that sucks it into an alternate universe where the vegetable takes on a whole new dimension of cookedness previously never seen before. That’s how I would describe the universe in umido. Not a bad place to
eat be right now.
Romano Beans in Umido
- 3T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 1.5# romano beans, trimmed and cut into halves or thirds (depending on size)
- 2 large tomatoes, skins removed and cut into a large dice
- 1T tomato paste
- 2T mint, chopped
- pinch of chili flake
- kosher salt
- Blanch romano beans in salted, boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water.
- In a large saute pan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute. Add the romano beans, chili flake and a large pinch of kosher salt.
- Cover the pan and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, another large pinch of kosher salt and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every so often just to prevent sticking.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the mint. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary and serve.
In my marginally humble opinion, radishes are just about the most rad vegetable ever. Radishes are delicious, beautiful and – dare I say it – adorable. They’re even more adorable than baby corn.
In fact, in Japan, radishes are seen as so adorable that people carve them into cute little edible art pieces.
(Nevermind that these a more reminiscent of bad taxidermy than actual food…)
Behind the dainty, tickled pink hue of a radish lies a crisp and peppery vegetable with a taste that ranges from mildly spicy to horseradish hot.
(”All it comes down to is this. I taste like a spicy crunchy wasabi jicama guy but look great.” – Patrick Bateman, radish spokesperson)
Radishes can be eaten in a variety of ways: straight up Frenchie with butter and sea salt, in a crudite, roasted, pickled, or – one of my personal favorites – in a salad as the star ingredient.
When making a radish salad, the secret to making it not just a good radish salad but a great radish salad is all in the massage.
Deep tissue that radish.
You literally want to feel like you are trying to push the other ingredients into the radish. Radishes have a high water content and are pretty porous on the inside so by massaging the radish with the other ingredients, you are imparting the maximum amount of flavor into the vegetable.
Even though radishes taste pretty strong solo, they easily take on other flavors. Richer salad ingredients – like aged vinegars and cheeses – are perfect in a radish salad because the light and crunchy radish balances the heavier components with its signature, palate-cleansing bite.
So, without further ado, here is one of my go-to recipes for a tasty radish salad.
Radish Salad with
Aged Balsamic, Basil & Parm
- 2 bunches of Radishes (whatever color or type strikes your fancy, just make sure they’re firm and pretty blemish-free)
- 5 leaves of Basil
- 5oz Parmigiano Reggiano
- Handful of Sunflower Shoots
- Handful of Micro Russian Red Kale (substitute with small bits of torn Lacinato Kale if this is unavailable)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Good quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar (break out the good ish for this recipe)
- Maldon Salt & Black Pepper
- Clean the radishes, removing the greens and saving for another use if you wish. Halve the small radishes and quarter the large guys so all the pieces of radish are around the same size. Place in a large bowl.
- Tear the basil into medium-sized bits and add to the bowl. Break off small chunks of the parm with your hand (sometimes it helps to use a fork or paring knife to get the cheese going) into the bowl.
- Add a large pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and start massaging the radish, basil and parm together in the bowl, pressing the cheese and herb bits into the radish chunks with your hands. Add lemon juice, a drizzle of balsamic and continue to massage until the ingredients have incorporated themselves around each radish chunk
- Add sunflower shoots, micro kale, and a drizzle of olive oil to the bowl. Gently toss to combine (the greens are delicate!). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve immediately with a little more balsamic drizzled on top.