When five stories break a day and Florence’s events scene enters sixth gear, I retreat to radishes.
Packed with potassium and folic acid, radishes are the ultimate energy bringer and stress buster. These dainty red roots sing spring; in rural Cheshire I grew up eating radishes in a ploughman’s salad. Delicately peppery and refreshing, they cut through the rich cheese and tangy pickles, washed down with a very English cup of tea.
Sitting pretty on the city’s market stalls, Florentines are prone to popping a bunch or two of ravanelli into their sturdy trolley bags. The vegetables make a colourful cameo in a pinzimonio, the only rounded, red and still intact feature among the carrot, cucumber and celery sticks to be dipped into your finest best extra-virgin olive oil.
With the more exotic daikon ravishing the radish limelight among chefs and nutritionists, the unassuming red-skinned Raphanus sativus deserves advancement from garnish to glory. You can eat the leaves raw in a salad, simply sautéed as a pasta accompaniment or pulped as pesto. What raises the radish to celebrity status, however, is butter (doesn’t it always?) and that’s the super simple recipe I share here.
1 bunch radishes, topped, tailed and halved
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
Put the radishes in a small frying pan.
Add enough water to just cover them.
Add the butter, sugar and salt.
As soon as the water comes to the boil,
lower the heat and let simmer for 7-10 minutes until treacle-like.
Serve as a side dish with a simple pan-fried pork chop.
Pair like with like. A modish red from a little-known wine area, young organic winery Tenuta Sanoner’s Aetos Sangiovese 2016 Orcia DOC boasts a butteriness that complements the glaze while cleansing the palate from the oiliness. Chardonnay proves a happy companion: Barone Ricasoli’s Torricella 2015 is complex and convincing with its voluptuous vanilla, zingy citrus and refreshing mineral spine.