This post was updated in April 2016, just for you:
Our grocery bill goes waaaay down this time of year. I am so happy to have food growing all around me again, and (giddy giggle) I rarely go to the store, once the growing season is upon me. Except for cat food and a few other things. Which is just fine with me. Honestly, if it weren’t for the kids’ occasional hankering after the odd hamburger or chicken pot pie (Amalia was so hungry for the latter yesterday that she spent much of the afternoon making it for dinner) or, say, peanut butter and bananas, I’d be quite content to feast on the lovely fresh edibles around us, and only them, for the summer. Most of them are free for the picking, and are much more nutritious than most of the produce that you buy at the store, and they aren’t sprayed with chemicals, natch’, being at our place.
Well, that’s if you don’t count the aerial spray planes that regularly swoop over us. We are surrounded on all sides by commercially-grown corn and beans, which is all sprayed regularly. We breathe in, eat, and drink, I’m sure, enough toxins to baffle our immune systems, I’m sure. Hopefully we can counteract some of that with a healthy diet and other measures that we take, too.
This is what happens: the kind farmer who sprays all around us will call me and say “Amy, we will be spraying all around your place today. Nothing to be alarmed about, just wanted to let you know.”
“Okay, thanks,” I will say. “How long do we need to stay inside?”
“Oh! You don’t need to stay inside! You’ll smell the fill-in-the-blank-acide for a bit afterwards . . . well, you might want to keep the kids inside. For just a little while.”
It’s a pity I can’t bring our bees inside. And the chickens.
Enough of that for now. Consider: on our windy little spot of heaven, we can take a few steps out the back door and find:
- dandelion greens for salads
- nettles for green smoothies (we have these nearly every day for lunch) (of course, we have to have chia seeds and frozen bananas in those smoothies, which necessitates a trip to the store)
- lambsquarters, delicious sauteed like this
- eggs from our cossetted hens
- perennial plants that come back year after year: asparagus, rhubarb, spring onions, horseradish
- herbs coming back in the garden proper: borage and sorrel and mint and dill, in grand and glorious and generous profusion!
- curly dock: my current nemesis, which I’m trying hard to clean off our land, is edible and the smaller leaves are quite delicious. The leaves are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc, and the seeds are rich in calcium and fiber. It has a lemony taste and is good stir-fried with garlic, or scrambled with eggs.
- purslane, which comes up in my garden, is a succulent plant and delicious sauteed in butter
- pretty sure I’m forgetting something, so I’ll add one last bullet-point for that
My point? (And yes, my cheeky Gentle Reader, I’m getting to it.) I don’t have to do a thing to have all these foods available to me. I just have to take a short walk, lean over and pluck them, and carry them in to prepare them for dinner. I don’t have to get into my car and drive to the store. I don’t have to stand in line and listen to somebody’s fretful baby wail next to me; I don’t have to fork over money that we’ve worked hard for; I don’t have to wonder about chemicals or contaminants or E-coli.
Even if you live in town and don’t have a few acres at your disposal, many of these delicious and edible “weeds” are probably growing all around you in town. It just takes a bit of learning to know what is what, and some observation to make sure that they aren’t being sprayed by dangerous chemicals.
There’s a powerful lot of delicious and nutritious greens growing all around you that go uneaten and unnoticed by most people.
Here’s another one: radish leaves! Did you know that radish leaves are not only edible, but that they are nutritious? Most people don’t know this, buy the radishes only for the roots, tossing the leaves. But now that you know it, Gentle Reader, you may want to intercept those leaves from the compost bin and try a few new recipes!
It may be difficult to imagine eating a radish leaf, since they have a unfriendly, prickly feel, yet cooking them tames the prickles. The next time you have a bunch of radishes, don’t pitch the leaves into the compost bucket. Instead, wash them, slice them up quickly and saute them in olive oil, with a bit of smashed and diced garlic, just for 3 or 4 minutes. They’re a perfect green accompaniment to any meal. They’re also quite good tossed into soups, stir-fries, and fry-ups. You can also steam them for a couple minutes (like you would spinach) drain, then add butter, salt and pepper. YUM.
Just a hint for radish leaf newbies: the smaller leaves are milder, and be sure to cut out the stems (like you would the stems of kale) of the larger leaves if you use them. Or else your children might make cutting comments about what you are trying to make them eat for supper this time. (It happens.)
Here are a few other ways to enjoy radishes and their greens:
Roasted radishes and greens
- 3 bunches small radishes, greens attached
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tb unsalted butter
- 2 Tb fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 500°. Trim radishes and wash greens, pat dry. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Add radishes, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until showing some light brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast radishes for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender. Return the skillet to the burner and stir in the butter to coat the radishes. Add the radish greens and cook over moderate heat until they are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Serve the radishes right away. You’ll love them!
Radish leaf Soup (you can find the recipe right here)
Radish leaf pesto
- 2 large handfuls of good-looking radish leaves, stems removed
- 1 ounce hard cheese, (like parmesan), grated or shaved using a vegetable peeler
- 1 ounce nuts, such as pistachios or almonds
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and diced
- a short ribbon of lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to get the consistency you like
- ground chili pepper
Combine all of the above in a blender or food processor, and blend. Add more olive oil if desired, to get a spreading consistency.
This pesto is delicious mixed with hot pasta, smeared on bread or crackers, or used any way you’d use traditional pesto.
Pan-Seared Radish Greens
- 1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch radish greens, rinsed and chopped, stems removed
- freshly-ground salt, to taste
- Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over low-heat; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until balsamic vinegar is thick and syrupy. Set aside.
2. Heat oil and garlic in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat; when oil is hot add the radish greens and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until wilted. Season radishes with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar on top and set aside.
So there you go! Enough ideas for how to use your radish greens to last you through radish season! So . . . don’t toss those radish leaves into the compost bucket, or to your chickens (although they do love them). Try out one of these recipes, instead!
What do you say, Gentle Reader? Have you ever tried eating those radish greens? Let me know in the comments below, okay?
Thank you, and thanks always for reading. I love ya, I do. 🙂
- Birthdays in May, Drawing Mice, and Kooser Sightings
- Visiting Mary and Elna, and their flowers, too