For a long time, I didn’t cook. In previous relationships, long ago, my partner always seemed to be the better cook. When I lived alone and worked crazy hours, I didn’t see the point of cooking just for myself. It wasn’t until the last few years that I really started to embrace cooking. And then somehow, what was a forced, awkward embrace at first became a true love.
Yet I still had lots of insecurities about cooking, sticking strictly to recipes and refusing to experiment or trust my own creativity in the kitchen. Creativity was always a sore spot for me, something I just didn’t feel good at. As a kid, I played piano quite well, but never wrote my own song. I learned Japanese calligraphy, but wouldn’t draw anything that I didn’t have a model to copy from. In school, I could ace every test, but had a hard time applying the knowledge to real life challenges.
As cooking has become more and more familiar to me, I’ve started to trust myself. The kitchen has become a judgment-free zone where I feel comfortable experimenting and trying new things, without fear of failure. Well, okay. I still have a little fear of failure. But it’s gotten much better and as I’ve loosened my grip on recipe books, I’ve enjoyed this creative outlet more and more. I’ve even started going to the grocery store without a list (gasp!) on occasion. What I love about doing that is challenging myself to choose a vegetable I haven’t worked with before and creating something with it.
So the other day, as I was cruising through our local grocery, a watermelon radish caught my eye. A sample one was sliced open so it’s beautiful, pink flesh showed, and I knew I had to have it.
Watermelon radishes are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, and they also contain folate, Vitamin B-6, and important minerals. Plus, they are among the lowest calorie foods, at only 16 calories per 100 grams!
I picked up some green beans, heirloom tomatoes, and basil to go with it, because that’s what seemed like the right combination of textures and color.
My husband was grilling some chicken, and this was the perfect complement. I sliced the radish up into thin half moons and then cut those into quarters. Sliced up the tomatoes, and steamed the green beans until they were just al dente, rinsing them in cool water after draining to stop the cooking and retain their crispness. I whipped up some whole grain mustard vinaigrette, sprinkled some pine nuts on top, and we were in business with the perfect, end of summer salad.
The watermelon radish has a little kick to it that complemented the sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes perfectly, and the green beans had the perfect texture to bridge the soft tomato with the crispy radish.
The pine nuts and basil give this a Caprese salad kind of feel, but it’s cleaner with no cheese.
If you need a side dish to bring to a party or barbecue, this is perfect. It holds up well in the fridge even after it’s dressed due to the crispiness of the radish and beans. And its lively color makes you seem extra fancy, too. 🙂
Pair this with something from the grill and have an easy, colorful, nutritious meal that’s ready in just a few minutes!
End of Summer Watermelon Radish Salad
1 watermelon radish, sliced into rounds and then quartered
2 large heirloom tomatoes
2 large handfuls green beans, lightly steamed
1 bunch basil, julienned
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Combine sliced radish, steamed green beans, sliced tomato, and basil in large salad bowl. In small bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk together until smooth, then toss vegetables in desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve. If making ahead of time, reserve dressing and pine nuts separately and add just prior to serving.