My kitchen highlights this week all came from one meal. On Tuesday, I took on dinner for the whole family to give my mom the night off. It can be a daunting task to cook a meal that pleases all palates and aligns with each person’s eating ethos. In my temporary household we’re made up of vegetarians, omnivores, minimal dairy eaters, big eaters, no-bean eaters, and occasional kiddie palates.
After poking around my mom’s pantry, flipping through cookbooks, scrolling through Pinterest and still coming up dry for inspiration, it dawned on me that I could do something I never get to—walk down to the vegetable garden and see what’s ready to be picked and plated.
The tiny, elegant curls of the snap peas were beginning their ascent, feathery carrot tops were just starting to stretch out of the dirt, and tomato vines were crawling upwards, dotted with yellow flowers. Everything was green, but nothing bore fruit, save for one row of radishes, their pink bulbs visible just above the soil. Most could be pulled out easily, and those that resisted my tugging were left behind so they might grow a little rounder and be ready to release their roots from the earth next time.
Radishes are by no means a meal, but sparked my inspiration as a two for one deal with their edible greens attached. Pulled fresh from the garden they were as spicy as a knob of ginger. I tamed their bite by slicing them thinly for quick pickling in a small pot of warmed apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaf, garlic, and black peppercorns.
After a thorough washing, I chopped the greens and sauteed them with garlic, fennel seeds, salt and a splash of vinegar until their bitterness disappeared. Delicate greens like these nearly disappear themselves when cooked. Two handfuls turned into a scant one, not enough to play a major role, but perfect to mix into a grain salad.
I paired the salad with Smoky Maple Air Fried Tofu using a sauce similar to my Maple & Smoked Paprika Marinade from last week. For the meat eaters, I made use of some leftover chicken, pulling it from the bone, shredding it and warming it with the same sweet and salty marinade that first seasoned the tofu. And finally I made a cashew cream sauce because it is generally good on everything.
I'm a Registered Dietitian and Personal Chef in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up around the dinner table, and believe that food is intricately woven through all of our stories. It holds memories of home, childhood, and beliefs; it comforts us, nourishes us, and creates a centerpiece to gather around.