Are radish tops safe, or are they dangerous like rhubarb leaves? If they won't kill me, what can I do with them?
-Martin from Des Moines
Rhubarb leaves pack high levels of toxic oxalic acid but radish leaves are safe. They have a mild bite a little like the radish beneath them. Like that radish, they are best eaten young and in great shape. There is a slightly fuzzy texture to them that some people don't care for, but it's purely a matter of personal taste.
Try them instead of lettuce or arugula in sandwiches (they love mayonnaise). I use them as a foil for roasted sweet vegetables, like peppers, onions, squashes, carrots or parsnips. Roasting browns the greens, lending them a rich, pleasingly tart-meaty flavor.
Test drive the concept with this dish. It's a chameleon, turning into a relish for topping bruschetta, a dip, a topping for anything grilled, a side dish or a sauce for pasta.
Three-Pepper Roast with Radish Greens
Serves 4 to 8. Twenty minutes prep time; about 45 minutes oven time
You could chill the peppers up to 5 days, or freeze up to 6 months.
- 5 large sweet red and yellow peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 to 3 medium-hot to hot fresh chiles, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (jalapeño, Hungarian, cubanelle or serrano), optional
- 2 medium to large red onions, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- a big handful fresh radish leaves, spring mix, curly endive, escarole or young arugula, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 2 to 3 tablespoons good-tasting extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons cut in wedges (for garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Slip a large shallow pan (a half-sheet pan is ideal) into the oven to heat up. In a big bowl toss together all the ingredients (except the lemons), seasoning to taste with the salt and pepper.
2. Open the oven, with oven mitts pull out shelf with shallow pan. Turn all the vegetables onto the pan, taking care not to get burned. Spread them out and roast about 45 minutes, turning often. The peppers should have some browning and the radish leaves should be crisp. Encourage browning by keeping everything spread out during cooking.
3. Serve the peppers hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges to squeeze for the dish's final seasoning.