Meatless Mondays: Pasta With Radish Greens

If you’re eating the roots, why not eat the tops too?

(Photo: Ian Knauer)

Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.

There comes a moment in every gardener’s summer that is the moment for one of your crops. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes and zucchini, give over time. There are frames for these foods—a window. Other vegetables, like radishes, do not have a frame; they are the photograph. They have a day, maybe two, when they are perfect. Before that moment, they are unready; after, they’re too far gone. This week my radishes had their moment.

I have a medium-sized garden. There are more radishes than I can eat in a sitting but not enough to sell at a roadside stand. I can feed about 12 people with my radishes. That meal had to happen yesterday. It was a radish emergency. I sent an email, calling all available eaters—we’d have a radish meal. Twelve hungry people arrived to pull radishes from their beds and make them into a three-course meal, the star of which could have been trash.

There is an overriding waste-not theme to farming. I stood in the kitchen with a couple gallons of radishes and buckets full of radish greens. I could feed the greens to the chickens, throw them in the compost, or feed them to my hungry friends, many of whom had never tried radish greens, which are tough and slightly spiky—unpleasant to eat. But a one-minute blanch in the pasta cooking water takes care of that, softening their prickles.

This pasta is a homemade pappardelle made with my chickens’ eggs. It has a silky texture when cooked and, in my opinion, is worth the time it takes to make. But if you’re looking to get dinner on the table, feel free to substitute a pound of dried spaghetti.

Pasta With Radish Greens

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the pasta:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the radish green sauce:

4 bunches of radish leaves, chopped if large

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1 bunch radishes (without greens)

1/2 pound fresh pasta or 1 pound dried spaghetti

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

Directions

Pasta:

Place the flour on a work surface, and form a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well, and add the salt. Stir with a fork, slowly incorporating the flour, until a dough forms. Knead the dough until elastic, about 12 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll out each piece with a pasta machine until it is thin enough to see through, about setting No. 5 on some machines. Dust the pasta sheet with flour and loosely roll into a cigar shape. Cut the pasta into 1-inch pieces and unravel. Let the pasta dry at room temperature until ready to use, dusting with flour if it sticks together.

Radish green sauce:

Cook the radish greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer the greens to a colander using a slotted spoon and let cool to warm. Press as much water from the greens as possible. Bring the water back to a boil.

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil, along with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the radish greens and blue cheese.

Thinly slice the radishes.

Boil the pasta in the radish cooking water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and toss with the radish green mixture in the skillet. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water for a thinner sauce if desired. Season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste, then serve topped with the sliced radishes and bread crumbs.

Comments ()