As I write this, the rain is smattering against the window… Right now it doesn’t exactly feel like summer. But then yesterday it was hot and sunny. I suppose considering it’s already the end of June, things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse. Living in Ireland, one thing for sure is, you don’t take sunshine for granted! Luckily this life giving rain has my little garden patch overflowing with green goodness. No watering required.
A lot of people start their new healthy eating regimen in January, when it’s wet and cold and generally miserable. I don’t know about you but eating salads and cold food in general when the weather is cold and damp just doesn’t do it for me. When it’s cold I crave warm food, though as soon as it gets warmer, raw food is back on! It’s so much easier to fill your plate (or bowl) with lots of fresh colourful food this time of the year when it’s bright, warm and (hopefully) sunny. Plus fresh produce is in abundance right now.
So to help you keep this fresh food, rainbow and salad mojo going I’ve decided to share with you some cool summer salad recipes over the coming weeks. What ends up in my bowl (and subsequently here) will depend on what happens to be growing in the garden, what I can find at the market and what ever inspiration I might pick up from my many, many cookbooks. This is the first part of the Summer Salad Series.
When I first tried a hand at growing my own food, only last year, radishes were one of the first things I planted. All the well meaning advice went something like; “they are super easy to grow”, you can’t fail growing radishes” and so on. Well actually, turns out you CAN fail at growing radishes… Well at least if you do what I did and planted them in a small pot in a wild place of the garden where a bunch of rabbits hang out. Probably not one of my most brightest moments. I just had the pleasure of seeing the sprouts, then it quickly turned into a no show. So this year, wise from my learnings of last year’s experience, I built raised beds. And it has proven a worthwhile experience! These radishes shown above are some proudly home-grown ones!
Normally you eat these little pink beauties raw as they are, but after coming a cross a few roasted radish recipes, I decided to test it out myself. Roasting them in the oven for 10-15 min offers a completely different taste experience. Instead of the normally crunchy, peppery flavour you, end up with a soft sweeter flavour, which adds a nice contrast with the lemony quinoa and tart cherries. I also added some Tamari toasted seeds for a little extra saltiness and crunch.
Turns out you can eat the radish tops too, so if you have your own, definitely add them. Actually tops from carrots and beetroots are also edible, though we often tend to throw them out. If you grow your own you can definitely include the tops of those in your salads. The radish tops are a little prickly though so you can either chop them finely or wilt them slightly in a warm lightly greased frying pan. Or quickly steam them.
This salad is actually a warm salads, so perfect on those not-so-sunny days when you are looking for a little cheering up. If you have some cold leftover quinoa from the day before, making this salad is even quicker!
Roasted Radish Salad with Cherries
Serves 2 (double the amount if you are serving more people)
a bunch of fresh radishes (about 10 or so), washed, tops removed and kept aside if fresh enough to use
a large handful of fresh cherries (1o-15), washed, halved and stone removed
2/3 cup of quinoa, rinsed well
1 2/3 cold water
For the dressing:
1 tsp clear raw honey, local preferably
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp water – optional (for thinning out the dressing)
sea salt & black pepper to season
Tamari toasted seeds – Makes 5 portions
5 tbsp pumpkin seeds
5 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp Tamari sauce – wheat free soy sauce
Start by placing the rinsed and drained quinoa in a sauce pan with the water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and bring to the boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook with the lid on for 12 min. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on the hot hob with the lid on for a further 10 min. You should then have ended up with a fluffy cooked quinoa and all the water absorbed.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place your seeds in a small bowl. Add the tamari sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a lined baking tray. Roast for a about 15 min until the seeds are dry and crunchy but not burned. Give them a toss every 5 min to ensure even roasting.
While you are roasting your seeds, wash and halve the radishes. Place them all on a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil over the lot and season with sea salt and black pepper. Gently toss the radishes around with your hands to ensure they are evenly coated with the oil. Once your seeds are done, remove them and set aside. Place your radishes in the oven and toast for about 15 min or until soft.
In a small bowl add all the ingredient for the dressing and then once the quinoa has cooled a bit, add the dressing and mix them together.
Assemble your salad in individual serving bowls (or one large one if you are using it as a side dish). Add the quinoa, the roasted radishes, then the de-stones cherries, some finely shredded tops and lastly a scatter of the toasted seeds.