As a kid, I wasn’t an adventurous eater. That may be the understatement of the millennium, really. My mom considered it a win if I didn’t accidentally “drop something” under the table so I could surreptitiously spit my carrots into my napkin. I’m sure she was surprised they never asked me to play James Bond, given my uncanny ability to fly under the radar.
Obviously, I came around (food-wise, not so much spy-wise). Still, I was out of college before I tried (and loved) hummus. Or falafel. Or anything even remotely middle eastern. In fact, most of the dishes in Danielle Oron’s Modern Israeli Cooking would have sent me diving for cover under the dining table as a kid. Happily, that is no longer the case. But I still have to admit that radishes, of all things, kind of flummox me. In fact, sometimes I feel like I only eat them when I’m with Shelly, and she’s making tacos or pulled pork (both of which she liberally garnishes with paper-thin slices of radish). I love them when I have them. But then I get home and buy some radishes (which have always seemed kind of like an afterthought to me, except when I’m with Shelly). After one taco night, the leftover radishes languish in the kitchen until I cry uncle and head for the compost bin.
Then I opened Modern Israeli Cooking. Not only would I (finally) eat most of the AMAZING dishes in this book, I also found a recipe that made delicious use of those languishing radishes. Roasted radishes–who knew? (Not me, and I’ll roast pretty much anything.) Luckily I had sumac on hand, so this side dish came together in no time. It also became way more than a side dish, since my kids had managed to feed themselves before I even got home. Roasted radishes for dinner, anyone? Yes and yes. I have to admit that I experimented and sprinkled sumac on half of the roasted radishes, then sprinkled za’atar on the other half. Both were amazing, especially if you love za’atar (and I do).
I’m guessing Danielle Oron won’t mind that I went (slightly) off the reservation. At her Moo Milk Bar in Toronto, on her blog–I Will Not Eat Oysters–and in this beautifully photographed book, the recipes are far from mainstream. Beer Braised Holiday Brisket with Prunes Over Creamy Grits sounds sort of Israeli, but totally delicious. Fattoush seems traditional until you read the first line of Oron’s description: “Fifty percent of this salad is packed with fresh vegetables and the other fifty percent is generally deep-fried pita.” I might have found my culinary soul mate.
“Midnight: The Carb and Egg Chapter,” seals the deal.
Roasting softens the radishes’ peppery flavor. They’re beautiful vegetables. Probably the prettiest kind out there. The balsamic vinegar caramelizes and becomes sticky as it roasts with the radishes. Use whatever kind of radishes you can find at a farmer’s market. If you are able to find black radishes, don’t pass on them! They really are showstoppers.
–Danielle Oron, Modern Israeli Cooking
Modern Israeli Cooking
100 New Recipes for Traditional Classics
by Danielle Oron
Photography by Danielle Oron
Page Street Publishing
- 6 large or 12 small radishes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- Salt and fresh pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Maldon salt
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C) and lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Toss the radishes with the olive oil and season with salt and fresh black pepper.
- Place them, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle them with balsamic vinegar.
- Roast in the oven for 15–18 minutes until cooked through and the cut side is slightly crisp.
- Season with sumac and Maldon salt and serve warm or at room temperature.