As anybody who has gotten vegetable-cooking advice from their nearest farmers market can attest, sometimes Grower Knows Best. That’s certainly the case when the grower in question is also a cookbook author, writer and former food magazine editor.
Susie Middleton did the back-to-the-land thing several years ago, walking away from the suburban home and the big job at Fine Cooking. She headed to Martha’s Vineyard, where she planted a garden, then a bigger garden, then moved to an old farmhouse to plant a bigger one, then started a farm stand, then — well, you see where this is going. She and her new love, the carpenter who built her a farm stand, became farmers.
Her new book, “Fresh From the Farm” (Taunton Press), tells that story in its outer margins. Taking center stage are images of the vegetables she grew, and recipes for what she made with them. Read one and then another, and you’ll find yourself charmed by her conversational tone and equally breezy way of cooking.
Back to that grower-knows-best idea. I was looking for something different to do with radishes, and there it was: Middleton quickly pickles them — and by quickly, I’m talking a matter of minutes — to remove just enough of their bite that they become addictive. Tucked into arugula that’s been similarly tamed by lemon juice and a little honey, and with Parmesan, almonds and mint thrown into the mix, the radishes are able to star without overtaking the dish.
Middleton likes to pair pink radishes with arugula for her favorite color combination, but the salad looks positively cheery — farm-fresh, indeed — no matter which color radish you choose.