My son, who is in charge of our family’s Easter dinner this Sunday, has called me three times the past week to discuss the menu. He has dismissed ham (last year’s centerpiece) as well as lamb (our main the year before), and was contemplating grilled salmon a few days ago. Today he announced that pasta with lobster and fresh peas in a cream sauce would anchor the meal. Whether this latest remains the plat du jour or not is anybody’s guess. What is certain is a side dish that I plan to bring of roasted asparagus and radishes scented with a light Asian-style sauce.
Several years ago at a summer dinner, I tasted roasted radishes for the first time when friends served them as a side to grilled fish. The radishes had lost their peppery quality, and tasted more like petit turnips. Scented with sesame oil, they made a unique and delicious vegetable garnish. When I decided to roast asparagus for Easter, I remembered those radishes and decided to pair them with the green spears.
I quartered the red orbs and drizzled them with a small amount of sesame oil before popping them in the oven. I gave the radishes a head start of 10 minutes, since they take longer to roast, before adding a pan of sesame-scented asparagus. When both the vegetables were tender and slightly charred, I tossed them in a simple sauce of rice vinegar, soy, maple syrup, and orange zest. The only garnish this attractive vegetable duo needed was a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
So, whether you are serving ham, lamb, fish, or pasta with lobster, keep this simple side dish in mind. It takes only a few minutes to assemble, needs less than 30 minutes in the oven, and will make a beautiful addition to your Easter table.
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Roasted Asparagus and Radishes
Asian- Scented Sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp grated orange zest
2 pounds medium (do not use thin) asparagus with 2 inches of the tough ends cut off
1/2 pound large red radishes, trimmed and quartered lengthwise to yield about 2 cups
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted (See note)
Fleur de sel
1. Arrange racks at the lower and center positions and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Have ready two baking sheets.
2. For the sauce, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Then whisk in the orange zest. Set aside.
3. Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Toss to coat with the seasonings. Place the quartered radishes on the other baking sheet, drizzle them with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and toss well.
4. Place the pan with the radishes on the middle rack and roast 10 minutes. Then stir the radishes with a metal spatula and place the pan with the asparagus on the lower rack. Roast both vegetables 12 to 15 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes and piercing them with a sharp knife to see when they are tender. (Watch carefully so they do not overcook and become too soft.) When done the radishes will be tender, browned lightly, and have a wrinkled appearance, and the asparagus will be tender when pierced with a knife and remain bright green.
5. To serve, arrange the asparagus in a single row down the center of a serving plate and drizzle with half of the sauce. Toss to coat well. Drizzle the radishes on the warm baking sheet with the remaining sauce and use a spatula to toss and coat them well. Arrange the radishes down the middle of the asparagus spears. Season the vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon or more fleur de sel, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm. Serves 6.
Cooking tip: To toast sesame seeds, place in a small skillet set over medium heat and stir and shake pan until seeds are light golden brown, only 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2015