Roasted pickled radishes — the dish no one will guess

When we were served these sour pink balls as part of a tray of roasted vegetables, no one could guess what they were. That color — like no vegetable we’d ever seen. Was it a very small, pale beet? Dyed baby potatoes? We had to ask the waiter.

Maybe the mystery is part of the excitement, because most of the people with us at Hamitbach Shel Rama that night agreed that those pickled, roasted radishes were one of the highlights of the meal, despite the stiff competition.

Pleasantly enough, they’re incredibly easy to make at home, too. All it takes is advanced planning — the radishes need to go into the lemon juice a day or two in advance. The pickling process itself is fascinating to watch — you start with clear liquid and bright fuchsia radishes, and within a number of hours you have vibrantly pink brine, while the radish skins have become muted. Meanwhile, the radishes become pink inside.

Here’s the before photo:

And here are the radishes after a day in brine:

Sliced open, this is what they look like compared to unpickled radishes:

The idea of pickling radishes doesn’t come entirely out of left field — Eitan tried them, knowing what they were, and commented that they resemble one of the kinds of pickles served at falafel stands. However, the roasting process makes them milder and less sharp, while the combination of spicy radish and sour lemon juice adds a burst of flavor to any roasted vegetable platter.

The following instructions presume you want to make these radishes as one element of a roasted vegetable platter. Obviously you could make them on their own, without the other vegetables. Your choice.

For a platter of vegetables:

200 grams small radishes
juice of 1 large lemon (mine gave me 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt
water to fill the jar (I used 100 milliliters)

other vegetables for roasting, such as a zucchini, a few bell peppers, an onion and/or a carrot or two
olive oil for baking
sea salt

Start a day or two in advance: Fill a glass jam jar to the rim with radishes. Add the lemon juice, the sugar and the salt. Top off with water, so that the jar is full. Put the lid on the jar, and let sit unrefrigerated for a day or two.

Oil a glass baking pan with olive oil. Once the radishes are a light pink inside and out, toss into a baking pan along with assorted other vegetables (you can chop the other vegetables into large chunks). Bake at the oven’s maximum temperature for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.

Serve topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.

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