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Published July 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

Rosy Radish Dip packs a zing

Just a few weeks ago, I discovered a gorgeous bunch of radishes tucked into a market basket full of goods that I purchased from local growers.

By: Sue Doeden, Bemidji Pioneer

Just a few weeks ago, I discovered a gorgeous bunch of radishes tucked into a market basket full of goods that I purchased from local growers. They were on the small side, colored dark rosy red to pink, ending with creamy white tails at the root ends. I cleaned them, immediately ate a few of the slightly spicy vegetables and then slipped the rest into the refrigerator. For the next few days, each time I went to the refrigerator, I popped a radish into my mouth.

Peppery radishes are often sliced into salads and are occasionally found on trays along with pickles and olives. Every now and then I see them mixed with other colorful fresh vegetables offered with a bowl of creamy dip.

My mom used to make cuts in radishes to from petals, give them some time to soak in water, and before long, the petals would open up to form a pretty little radish flower. I’d dip a radish in salt and eat it, biting off one petal at a time. It made for a fun way for a child to eat a radish.

Typically, the spicy bite of radishes is not to the taste of most children. In fact, it’s not to the taste of many adults, either.

Rosy Radish Dip might change all that.

On a recent trip to Minneapolis, I had the opportunity to visit Common Roots Café, located in the Uptown neighborhood. Outside, behind the restaurant, they have a very healthy vegetable and herb garden. The day I was there, the café was offering tours of the garden, a visit with their featured farmer, Greg Reynolds of Riverbend Farm, and some food and wine samples. It was Food and Farm Day at Common Roots. Children were excitedly working on a scavenger hunt through the garden. Adults were exclaiming over the huge broccoli, the variety of peppers and the lushness of the entire garden.

A rosy-colored dip was offered for sampling on chunks of chewy bread or paper-thin slices of toasted bagel. It was a dip made of radishes, creamy and pink, with a peppery flavor. Tasters were gobbling it up, even the children. I overheard one person say how much he liked the dip, despite the fact that he was not a radish lover.

Rosy Radish Dip is my re-creation of that creamy spread. It’s a great way to use the fresh radishes that you may still have growing in your garden. You may also find some green-topped radishes at your local farmers’ market. The cool summer weather we’ve been having makes them especially happy.

Rosy Radish Dip is super simple to mix up. It has a base of cream cheese. I used the fine grater blade of my food processor to prepare the radishes for the dip. Any hand grater will work, just watch your fingers. Once the radishes have been grated, you will notice they release some liquid. Squeeze as much of the liquid from the grated radishes as possible before stirring them into the cream cheese. A little seasoned salt complements the radishes.

Tote Rosy Radish Dip to a picnic. Its soft color, flecked with bits of pink and red, will attract hungry people. Its subtle, spicy zing will keep them coming back for more.

Rosy Radish Dip
12 ounces trimmed radishes (Leaves and stems removed, root ends trimmed)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Black pepper, to taste
Fresh vegetables
Bread chunks or crackers

Grate trimmed and rinsed radishes with a fine grater. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add mayonnaise, seasoned salt and a pinch of pepper. Blend well.

Squeeze liquid from grated radishes. Stir the radishes into the cream cheese mixture and blend well.

Refrigerate dip for at least an hour before serving, allowing time for the flavor to develop.

Serve dip with fresh vegetables and chunks of bread, crackers or chips.

Tips from the cook

--Radishes will vary in their spicy flavor, depending on the variety. In Rosy Radish Dip, use more or fewer radishes. Just taste as you mix.

--Add some crunchy texture to the dip by stirring in chopped green onions.

--Rosy Radish Dip works as a sandwich spread and makes a good chip dip, too.

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