I’m anti-gaspillage, as the French say, or someone who doesn’t waste food, like my in-laws who make a soupe aux fanes de radis, radish leaf soup, rather than tossing the still-tasty greens away.
To make this astonishingly green spread, make sure the butter is very soft. If your kitchen is on the cool side, put the butter in a warm (not hot) place to soften before mixing it with the radish leaves. Be sure to wash the greens thoroughly, in several changes of water if necessary, to ensure your radish butter is free from any grit. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the radish leaves very finely with a chef’s knife after they’re cooked, then mash them into the butter with a fork. And if you can, make the butter in advance so the flavors meld together.
VARIATIONS — Here are two more options for flavored butters.
To make Seaweed Butter, mix 1½ tablespoons furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning, available at Asian markets) with ½ cup (115g) softened salted butter.
To make Smoked Paprika Butter, mix 1 teaspoon smoked paprika with ½ cup (115g) softened salted butter and add a sprinkle of salt
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with very cold water and ice cubes, and have a mesh strainer handy.
- Add the radish leaves to the boiling water and leave them in the water until the leaves are wilted, about 12 seconds. Drain the leaves in the strainer and immediately plunge them into the ice water, which fixes the vivid green color. Once cool, remove the radish leaves and squeeze them as hard as you can to remove any excess water.
- In a food processor, combine the radish leaves, butter, garlic, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Process until the leaves are completely incorporated into the butter. Scrape into a bowl and serve at room temperature with the fresh radishes, either whole or sliced in half, for guests to smear with a little dab of the butter. I make sure to have some flaky salt nearby, in case anyone wants to add a few flakes of that, too.
- The radish greens butter can be made up to 1 week in advance and refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Aperitifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 recipes by David Lebovitz © 2020. Photographs © 2020 by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.