In the mood for some crunch?
During the colder months my tastes gravitate toward the hearty and comforting textures of all things braised, baked, simmered, and roasted. Now that summer is just around the corner (and maybe arriving a tad early — they’re predicting highs near 90 in nyc tomorrow!), I’m feeling the raw-crispy-crunchy veg vibe again. On my last greenmarket visit I picked up a bunch of Easter egg radishes, looking all adorable in their white, pink, and purple skins, and a few generous fistfuls of sweet and crunchy, just-plucked sugar snap peas. They joined forces to create a salad with a most satisfying crunch, the whole thing tied together by a chile-flecked miso vinaigrette.
Miso paste is one of my go-to fridge staples. It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient that imparts the magical umami — that hard to define rich-salty-savory depth of flavor — to everything it touches. Unpasteurized miso (South River Miso is my favorite brand) sold in the refrigerator case is the best way to get a good dose of the health-promoting microorganisms that flourish during the fermentation process (the miso pastes sold at room temp on grocery store shelves have usually been treated with high heat to prevent spoilage). Boiling miso or otherwise exposing it to high heat kills off those good guys — so I always add it to soup after it’s cooled for a few minutes, and toss vegetables with miso dressing only off the heat.
I keep a couple of varieties of miso paste in the fridge: a rich, hearty miso for soups (aduki bean miso is my current favorite) and a milder miso to use in dressings, sauces, and vinaigrettes (like mellow chickpea miso or sweet white soybean miso). The milder miso pastes also make a crazy-good citrus miso butter for sauteed asparagus – I’ll get that up here one of these days! All this to say — a jar of miso is a handy thing to have in the kitchen.
sugar snap and radish salad with spicy miso dressing
I bought a packet of Aleppo pepper flakes at Penzey’s in Grand Central Market recently and have been using it in everything ever since. Aleppo is a mildly spicy pepper with a complex, fruity, raisiny, and slightly smoky flavor. If you don’t have Aleppo on hand, substitute dried red chile flakes but use a little less — the Aleppo flakes do not contain seeds so their heat level is lower than that of regular crushed red chile.
- 1 generous Tbsp mild miso paste (such as sweet white miso or chickpea miso)
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp thinly sliced spring garlic or scallion
- 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup radishes, scrubbed and thinly sliced or quartered (depending on size)
- 1 cup sugar snap pea pods, stems removed and sliced in half on a diagonal
- sea salt (to taste)
Whisk together the miso paste, lemon juice, olive oil, spring garlic or scallion, and chile flakes in a bowl.
Add the radishes and sugar snaps and toss to combine. Season to taste with sea salt if needed (depends on the salt level of the miso paste).