Radishes on your pizza? Yes!
This beautiful and abundant springtime vegetable seems to have two camps: Those who love the zesty, juicy flavor and satisfying crunch, and those who find that sharp, bitter zing an affront to their tender palates. But in her latest cookbook, Veg Forward: Super Delicious Recipes That Put Produce at the Center of Your Plate (Harper Celebrate, May 30, 2023), part-time East Hampton resident and cookbook author Susan Spungen will bring both camps to the middle with one neat trick: roasting.
“When you roast, it takes away a lot of the sharpness with raw radishes, which is what some object to. They don’t taste as much like radishes anymore for those who don’t like them – more like a cooked turnip. It also makes them delightfully juicy – they have a lot of water in them,” says Spungen, who recently held an author evening at Amagansett’s Il Buco Vita, signing books and bestowing the masses who lined up to get them with myriad treats from her new pages. “Roast them briefly until they are just tinged with brown and take on a juicy character.”
Spungen is also a proponent of the waste-not-want-not school of veggie use. Here, she uses the tops to make bright, snappy oil that gets drizzled on the pizzette — small, personal-sized pizzas.
“I love the way a bright green oil looks. That’s why I included it in this recipe,” Spungen say. “Also, it gives a grassy freshness here.” And if you make extra, it can be stored and splashed on other dishes, from eggs to olives to grilled lamb (if you’re a meat eater).
“I like to try to use all the parts of the plant when I can. It’s not always easy and can be challenging to use everything. But when a good part can be utilized, why not?” she says. “Radish greens are close to arugula and mustard greens with that nutty sharpness. They’re a bit prickly when raw, so I blanche them first to take away that prickliness.”
The new book is a gorgeously photographed (by Spungen herself, drawing on her vast food-styling experience and years as the food editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia) and isn’t just for the meat-eschewing.
“It’s better to eat more vegetables — you can’t argue that. I even tell myself this because I’m not a vegetarian and I do like my protein, but I also like vegetarian protein,” she offers, adding that she’ll often include things like eggs, legumes, tofu or ricotta cheese to add an extra-filling boost to a veg-forward meal. “Think of meat as a side dish instead of the vegetables.”
If you don’t feel like making the dough yourself for this recipe, Spungen says nabbing some dough from your favorite pizza shop or market is fine, and over the flames of a grill it’s ready in minutes. And who knows, all you radish rebels — you might just fall in love with a new veg here.
Cook This Now! Susan Spungen’s grilled pizzette with whipped ricotta, roasted radishes and herbs
For the dough
- 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
For the roasted radishes
- 1 bunch French breakfast radishes or other small radishes, with their greens
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the radishes
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the topping
- 1 cup ricotta, preferably fresh
- grated zest of a lemon
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- a handful of fresh herbs, such as chervil, tarragon, chives, parsley
- flakey sea salt