Saturday, December 13, 2014

Of Rain and Radishes

So here it is, the middle of December, on a lovely rainy Saturday morning, and life is good. The garden's got things in it to harvest now, despite what seemed like a slow start but probably wasn't - I'm just impatient.
Yesterday I picked these radishes, and sliced the radishes themselves for one of my favorite breakfasts, a radish tartine. That's just a half of a toasted English muffin (or any bread you like), spread with goat cheese (my favorite) or cream cheese if you prefer (or don't have goat cheese on hand) and topped with thinly sliced radishes and a light sprinkling of salt - I love the contrast (and taste) of black Hawaiian salt.
I know I posted about tartines a while back, but since then I've made the discovery that it's super-easy to get thin, uniform radish slices by using the single slicing blade that's on one of the narrow sides of a box grater. Yes, that's probably a no-brainer, but I had never used that part of the grater for anything, ever, so it was sort of a revelation! I have those every now and then, and they always make me think, "This is so simple! Why didn't I ever consider doing this before?"

You'll notice that in the first picture the radishes are displayed on a big pile of radish greens. Radish greens are delicious, with the same spicy taste as the radishes themselves, and they're very nice cooked. Just slice them up and add them to all kinds of things: risotto or any kind of grain pilaf, for example, or stir-fries, or soup. A nice bowl of soup makes me very happy on a rainy day.
This is one of my favorite soups, adapted from a recipe from Eating Well magazine. It's got protein and veggies and is pretty much a meal in a bowl, quick and easy for an after-work dinner.

1 14 1/2 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 c. if you cook them from dry beans)
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (start with 5 and add more if you want it thinner)
1 T. olive oil
1 or 2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Good-sized pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste (if your tomatoes and/or broth are salty, you may not need this)
1/2 c. dried small pasta (stellini, ditalini, orzo, etc.)
A big handful (or 2 or 3) of greens of almost any kind, radish, chard, cilantro, parsley,        lettuce that's edible but has lost some of its mojo, some basil, whatever's handy
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated (optional)

Combine chickpeas, tomatoes, broth, oil, garlic, rosemary, and crushed red pepper in a 4 to 6 quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Bring back to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and greens, reduce heat a little, and cook, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom, for however long your choice of pasta takes to become tender. Serve with some cheese grated over the top if you like.

And now I'm going to sit back and enjoy the music of the rain.

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