Roast radishes and asparagus
Every time I share a picture of roast radishes I get people asking about them. I’ve never been a huge fan of raw radishes but roasting them has been a revelation. Their flavour is mellowed by roasting and they are a wonderful side dish, simply cooked with salt and a little oil. The fact they turn such a pretty pink helps get people excited too.
Roasting or steaming asparagus
Roasting asparagus is a safer bet than steaming or boiling if you’re feeding a crowd. A couple of minutes too long in a pan of water and your bundle of asparagus can become soggy whereas in the oven it takes a little longer and is therefore more forgiving if timings shift.
If you prefer to steam your asparagus, lay the spears flat in a frying pan with a cup of water. Put a lid on the pan or lay a tray on top of it. Bring to the boil and then when the water is boiling, turn to a simmer, cook for 2 minutes and then drain and serve.
The seasoning to make everything sing
Asparagus loves lemon, salt and butter or olive oil. The cheese crisp that is part of this recipe isn’t essential (and can be left out if you’re cooking for vegans) but when it is crumbed over for a salty crunch it is gorgeous. Any leftovers can be chopped into as salad the next day or blended into a soup.
Roast radish and asparagus ingredients
(serves 6 as a starter or side dish)
- 2 bundles (around 800g or 28 oz) asparagus
- 400g (14 oz) radishes
- 2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed (canola) oil
- 60g (2 oz) Gruyere or Comte cheese or Parmesan
- 1 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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- flat shallow baking tray
- small oven proof dish
- Microplane coarse grater
- silicone matt or parchment
- fish slice
- Microplane zester
To make roast radish and asparagus
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) 400°F (350°F convection).
- Wash the asparagus and radish, both can get quite sandy so I always soak them in a large bowl of water, giving them a bit of a shake to dislodge any stubborn grit.
- Prep the asparagus by bending each stem and allowing it to snap where it naturally breaks. Discard the tough ends or freeze them to throw into a soup. Lay the asparagus stems on a baking tray and sprinkle a tablespoon of oil over, using your hands to rub the oil into the spears before scattering them with a teaspoon of sea salt flakes or half a teaspoon of fine grain sea salt. Set aside.
- Prep the radish by cutting the green leaves off, leaving around an inch of green and a leaf or two. Any discarded leaves can be eaten raw as a peppery addition to a salad. Put the radishes in a small oven proof dish, scatter a teaspoon of oil and a generous pinch of salt over them, shake and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they are tender and slightly shrivelled.
- Make the cheese crisp by finely grating the cheese onto a tray, ideally lined with a silicone sheet to make cleaning up easier. Pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and melted. Pull out of the oven to cool and it will crisp up. User a fish slice to lift the cooled cheese off the tray and then break into a bowl and set aside. This can be done a day ahead if need be.
- When the cheese crisp is cooked and the radish is nearly ready, put the tray of asparagus into the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. To test if it is cooked, give one of the thicker stems a squeeze. If it gives, it is ready.
- Finish the dish by laying the stems on a platter, lay the radishes alongside or on top. Scatter them with lemon zest, a little more salt, lemon juice and the cheese crumbs.
AD – I created this recipe as part of a trip to work with Mirabeau wine in Provence.
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