I'm not a Winter person. I love the Summer. But when Winter comes around I look forward to coaxing root vegetables into something special. Like radishes. Radishes may be available all year round, but their cool, spicy, crunchiness makes them seem more like a Winter vegetable somehow. It's only in the past few years that I've come to realize how versatile they are.
Growing up I ate radishes in salad. That was it. Later I discovered the pleasure of nibbling on radishes with some hearty bread, sweet butter and coarse salt. Making pickled radishes is also easy as can be. Look for that recipe soon. First I want to share with you a pasta recipe that uses radishes. Just one large bunch or two smallish bunches is all it takes.
The nice thing about this recipe is that it also uses the greens, a much neglected bit of the radish. I don't know if this recipe is in any way Italian, I never came across it when I lived in Italy, but it does reflect the simplicity of pasta dishes that I experienced there. My version is a close adaptation of a recipe I found on the wonderful University of Illinois extension web site that has an informative section on gardening.
1-2 bunches of radishes (including greens)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces penne pasta
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta, and reserve a cup of the pasta water.
Chop the radishes and greens. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Saute the onions and garlic until translucent but not brown. Add the radishes and greens (you should have about a cup and half of radishes). Cook for about 5 minutes or until the radishes begin to soften and the greens wilt.
Toss the pasta with the vegetables and add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to moisten, as needed. Drizzle on another tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.