Rooting Around In Spring
It actually was in Spring, during my first trip to France, that I discovered the radish sandwich. I couldn’t believe I had lived so long without knowing about this simple, delicious, and incredibly satisfying meal.
Take spicy, salty, sweet, and buttery then place it all in one package! And if that wasn’t enough, you are treated to the crisp snap of radish, and the pleasurable crack of the crust on a fresh baguette. And let’s not forget the little bit of chew from the soft interior.
So, every Spring I wait patiently for the first and sweetest radishes of the season to appear in the Farmers Market. I can then assemble what Susan Loomis refers to in her French Farmhouse Cookbook as “France’s finest snack”! And indeed it is. A little research told me that this is actually a staple of the provincial kitchen. Although seemingly simple, the flavors layered here are anything but provincial. I would call them sophisticated simplicity.
I have tinkered with it over the years experimenting with the addition of herbs to the butter, and my recipe follows. However in it’s simplest form it is just as delicious with a split baguette, unsalted butter, thinly sliced radishes, and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.
At Art On The Menu we swoon when we bite into this: sweet herb butter slathered on a crusty baguette, radishes and salt, and all in under 10 minutes! What’s not to love!
Although traditionally made with the delicate bi-colored finger width French radish, I used globe radishes above.
Serves 4 ( or sometimes 1)
1 16″ baguette
1 bunch radishes (approx 12-15 med size radishes)
3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
fleur de sel, or any fine grained salt
Combine butter and herbs. Mix well. Can be prepared anytime in advance for the flavors to meld. I sometimes prepare it days in advance. Refrigerate if preparing in advance, and remove to bring to room temp for assembling.
Remove greens, and clean radishes well. Thinly slice. You should have approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups for a 16″ baguette.
Split baguette lengthwise.
Thickly spread herb butter on both sides of the bread. Layer the radishes on, and sprinkle generously with fleur de sel. You will need quite a bit of salt to bring the flavors together. For a 16″ baguette I usually sprinkle 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of fleur de sel. Cut diagonally into serving size sandwiches.
Or set out a bowl of fleur de sel and let your guests have fun by salting their sandwiches.
After salting consume immediately: the salt brings out the liquid in the radishes. It all becomes deliciously juicy!