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Feta, radishes and greens, covered in lemon basil dressing

November 15, 2010

Most people don’t like radishes for the same reason they might not like fennel bulb, or raw onions, in salad. There is no doubt that they can pack a punch, often a little too strong for those with mild palates, and I will admit I used to hate radishes until I realised they just need to be sliced thinly. After that, it was smooth sailing. I now also like a little raw red onion in a salad, as long as it is sliced paper thin and isn’t a dominant ingredient. However, I now LOVE radishes in salad – a slight crunch, a pop of vibrancy colour wise (great for when you can’t find decent tomatoes yet, or they’re expensive!), and a really refreshing flavour. After reading this post on radish truffle butter, I even invested (yes, INVESTED) in some truffle salt. I’ll let you know how it goes – I think I’m going to go about it a little differently, but the results should be similar.

In making this salad I also discovered the AMAZINGness that is beetroot leaves. Holy moly they are amazingly good, so much so that I might just plant some beetroot soon! What a fantastic plant (I’ve seen beetroot bulbs in everything from cake to salads to burgers). They are also utterly gorgeous with their purple stem and veins. Mildly mannered, and just the perfect texture for salad. Get it from the Riccarton/Christchurch/Dean’s Bush farmer’s market, although supply is highly variable I imagine so seriously if you like beets and have some space in your garden, plant some!

Onto the salad itself: a simply wondrous combination of tangy feta, tempered with the refreshing crunch of radish and greens, made super zing-y with lemon and basil dressing. Set off with garlicky home made croutons. The combination is a work of love by me and my partner who I’ve been trying to give a more active role in our meal construction. Enjoy!

Feta and radish salad with lemon basil dressing

serves two generously

  • 1 bunch of radishes, scrubbed, leaves set aside for another use, sliced (about 1c sliced radish)
  • a hearty handful of salad greens (we used beetroot leaves, which were stunningly perfect and delicious!)
  • about 150g creamy, crumbly feta (we used sundried tomato stuff, but regular would be great), cubed
  • several slices of crusty, slightly stale bread, cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • cooking oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (NOT minced)

lemon basil dressing

  • 5-6 large basil leaves or equivalent, very finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • twice as much oil as lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C. Place cubes of bread in a large roasting tray on a single layer, drizzle with a little oil and mix with garlic and a little freshly ground black pepper. Place in oven for about 10 minutes before tossing and returning to oven for another 5 minutes. By now the croutons should make a hollow clink on the roasting tray when tossed. Pour onto a wooden chopping board on a single layer to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk up all ingredients in lemon basil dressing in a small bowl or shake up in a covered jar. Place radishes in serving bowl and pour over dressing. Set aside.

Toss everything else (including croutons) into the serving bowl with the radishes, and mix well so that the feta crumbles throughout. Taste, and season further with salt if necessary (we overdid it on the salt front, but it was still delicious).


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