Herb-flecked butter makes rich contrast to bite of radishes

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune

Never hurry and never worry. Sensible advice from Charlotte, the renowned spider, weaver and heroine. But it’s a tall order — never?

I decided to start slow, swearing off the hunch-shouldered hustle for an evening. Instead of hurtling through traffic, I stayed put. Instead of banging through dinner prep, I attempted attentive.

Turns out that radishes, like toddlers, are proud of their big bellies. They enjoy a good scrub behind the stems. And their greens can be snipped into all sorts of daring ’dos. Also of note: Smearing a platter with herb butter and dotting the butter with fancifully coiffed radishes is compelling, time-consuming work.

I doubt Charlotte’s approach altered the appetizer — dill-specked butter and salt-speckled radishes. But the process was a pleasure. And, given that I only managed a one-dish meal, it counts as a masterpiece of monotasking.

Spring Radishes

Prep: 15 minutes

Makes: One appetizer, serves 4

2 bunches radishes with leaves — look for a variety of colors and sizes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (get the fancy stuff), softened

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Kosher salt

Flaky salt, such as Maldon

Crusty rye or French bread, optional

Trim: Wash and dry radishes. Slice each in half from stem to root. Using kitchen scissors, trim root so it trails off decorously. Snip away most leaves, letting each radish retain a sprightly leaf or two or, alternatively, give it a short, spiky ’do. You want the impression that radishes recently sprang, freshly washed and cut, from the garden.

Swirl: Drop butter into the food processor. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon each of chopped dill and parsley. Pour in 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Swirl smooth. Taste. Add more herbs and lemon, if you like.

Serve: Find a big rustic cutting board or platter. Spread on all the butter in two or three dramatic swaths. Dot the butter with radishes, cut sides down. Sprinkle the composition with flaky salt. Serve as is, or with warm bread.