Radishes in Soil à la Noma Recipe

I first heard about Rene Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant Noma when I attended the 2008 edition of the Omnivore Food Festival in Deauville, a gastronomic event during which high-profile chefs from France and beyond are invited to cook live on stage.

He has since received many more accolades as the herald of a refreshing and talented new wave of Scandinavian chefs. His forager’s approach seems to celebrate nature at its most generous, yes, but also at its roughest, revealing its beauty even when rocks and roots and wind are all it has to offer*.

Among the dishes Redzepi presented that day was a trompe l’oeil vegetable field: served on a warmed slab of stone, baby root vegetables were planted in a layer of mashed potatoes, then topped with a soil-like layer of malt and hazelnut flour crumbs.

A variation on this idea has become a signature amuse-bouche at Noma: it involves radishes with their leaves on, served in a terracotta pot that contains a creamy herbed dip at the bottom, and malt and hazelnut crumbs on top.

I later heard about a variation on this idea that’s become a signature amuse-bouche at Noma: radiser, jord og urteemulsion (radishes, soil and herb emulsion) involves radishes with their leaves on, served in a terracotta pot that contains a creamy herbed dip at the bottom, and the same crumbs on top.

I located an Observer article in which Redzepi gave a recipe for his vegetable field, including directions to make his dehydrated “maltsoil.” But then I also found a few blog references to a recipe that was published in the Figaro Madame late last year and drawn from Trish Deseine’s book Comme au resto, wherein the soil is made, more simply, from slices of dark bread.

It is the route I opted for, grinding dried-up slices of my sourdough chocolate bread, which is not sweetened at all, and using a mix of fresh cheese and yogurt for the herbed layer.

I’m always looking for novel ways to serve radishes** beyond the classic radish/butter/salt trio, and this was a whimsical and tasty one. I had fun assembling the containers — two small bowls and one square little dish like a gardening box — and served them at apéritif time, as a light companion to pre-dinner drinks. Once all the radishes had been consumed, there was some herbed cheese leftover in the bowls, so I cut thin slices of fresh baguette to scoop it up.

I dream of organizing a Danish getaway around a Noma reservation — Copenhaguen is just a two-hour flight from Paris after all — and someday I will, but in the meantime I’ll just munch on my radishes, and soon dive into the book Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, to be released by Phaidon this fall.

~~~

* Learn more about new Scandinavian cuisine by reading the Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen. And if you’re curious about Redzepi’s cuisine, a few bloggers have posted pictures of their meals at Noma: see the appetite-whetting reports on Chuckeats, A Life Worth Eating, Gourmet Traveller and Food Snob.

** For more radish inspiration, take a look at these avocado and radish canapés with smoked salt, this chicken and radish salad with avocado green goddess dressing, my radish leaf pesto, or Sonia Ezgulian’s tarte aux radis.

Radishes in Soil à la Noma Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves 2 to 4.

Radishes in Soil à la Noma Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch radishes with fresh-looking leaves, about 500 grams or 1 pound
  • 2 to 3 stale slices of dark bread, such as pumpernickel or rye (I used my unsweetened chocolate bread)
  • 150 grams (5 1/3 ounces) fresh cheese (I used fresh goat cheese but you could use cow's or sheep's milk cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic (in season right now), finely chopped
  • a handful mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, dill, chives, and mint), roughly chopped
  • fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Clean the radishes thoroughly to remove any trace of sand or dirt. Trim the bottom of the radishes but leave the stems and leaves intact. Let the radishes dry completely (or the herbed cheese won't stick).
  2. Toast the bread slices if necessary to remove any remaining moisture. Cut into pieces and grind in a blender or food processor until reduced to breadcrumbs, some coarse, some fine.
  3. Beat the fresh cheese and yogurt together until smooth; add a little more yogurt if necessary to get a creamy -- but not too liquid -- consistency. Fold in the garlic and herbs, and season with a little salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Spoon the fresh cheese at the bottom of several shallow ramekins or bowls; if you have clean little terracotta pots, the effect will be even more striking. Plant the radishes in without crowding, and sprinkle with the bread crumbs to form a soil-like layer. The radishes may be eaten whole, leaf included, if desired.
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  • http://operagirlcooks.com Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

    That is SO cute and easy to put together! It would be an adorable first course at a spring or summer dinner party. I imagine you could use baby carrots too.

  • http://freshlocalandbest.blogspot.com Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    This is indeed a fun and whimsical way to serve earthy root vegetables. It also makes me feel closer to how these vegetables are meant to be eaten: fresh – this is a great visual reminder.

  • http://thecastlerockincook.blogspot.com/ My Kitchen in the Rockies

    What a wonderful presentation of the radishes. Love it.

  • http://crispytarts.blogspot.com/ Erin Blogavich

    Love anything with radish!!! This is super creative! Yum! Thanks!

  • http://www.estouest.blog.lemonde.fr est

    cute idea! maybe it will help me fall in love with radishes…

  • http://theendivechronicles.com/ Erin

    That is to adorable! I think I’ll have to make this very soon.

  • http://www.eating-sf.com Kasey

    Adorable! Perfect for an outdoor summer picnic :)

  • Madonna

    I must try that. I have more radishes than I know what to do with – Easter egg and French breakfast. This is my first vegetable garden, and I had no idea radishes were so prolific. I don’t mind because I could eat the every day. Now I need a use for all the sorrel. The rhubarb pie has taken care of the excess lemon verbena.

  • http://croquecamille.wordpress.com Camille

    I’m always on the lookout for creative things to do with radishes, too! We get gorgeous ones from our CSA all spring, and I’m excited to have something new to do with them. Thanks!

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.com barbara

    I’ve seen Heston Blumenthal make edible soil but I cannot remember what he used. Lovely presentation Clotilde.

  • http://www.cupandtable.blogspot.com gretchen

    so clever!

  • Gillian

    The ‘classic’ radish/butter/salt was so new to us that we had to ask what you were expected to do with it, back in the 90s in France. It still makes us smile.

  • http://www.themessyapron.com shannon abdollmohammadi

    This is amazing…I was shocked when i kept reading. Your photographs are stunning. I want to surprise my dinner guests with this idea sooo bad.

  • Tamsin

    I’m kicking myself for not growing radishes this year but there’s just no space in my tiny garden. I’ll have to sow some when I harvest the lettuce.

    Madonna – try Ottolenghi’s beans with sorrel, feta and sumac. David Lebovitz posted the recipe on his blog recently and it’s delicious.

  • David

    The creativity here never fails to amaze, impress and delight me. This is so far beyond anything I could have imagined for the humble radish!

  • http://www.norwegianne.net Norwegianne

    I ate at Noma a couple of years ago, when I was living in Copenhagen, and it is definitely worth the visit. Tasty and simple food.

    Fortunately somebody else footed the bill.

  • zed

    Beware to budget LOTS on your trip to Copenhagen. Its an expensive city, and NOMA is just the top of the amazing restaurants pyramid. Would be a pity to go there and miss all of the others!

    And I’m definitely going to try this recipe, thanks! Looks great!

  • http://www.theteachercooks.com The Teacher Cooks

    Very unique idea and your phtography is stunning!

  • http://www.georgiapellegrini.com Georgia Pellegrini

    What an inventive dish…a great way to prepare radishes.

  • Marie

    I’m not sure what “fresh cheese” is… I did a web search and found that cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta are all considered fresh cheese, but I can’t imagine using any of those in this recipe. Well, maybe the cream cheese, but that would need more yogurt to make it dippable. Any suggestion for what I can buy in a standard American grocery store?

    Thanks!!!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Thanks for your comments everyone! I was hoping you’d like the idea as much as I did.

    Madonna – I’m preparing a post about sorrel uses, so stay tuned!

    Marie – Fresh cheese means any kind of unripened cheese (i.e. white, soft, and mild). All the fresh cheeses you mention would work here, as well as that fresh goat cheese that’s sold in a kind of pyramid-shaped container — I seem to remember it’s marketed in the US under the name Chavrie?

    Notice that the recipe says to add more yogurt if necessary to make the mixture creamy, and this will depend in its initial texture — mine required two tablespoons, but your mileage may vary. :)

  • http://aehrelichgesagt.blogspot.com/ Daniel

    At first I thought this was some sort of Radishes so fresh they’re still in dirt dish- which would have been great too, just a bit crazy. I love the dark bread crumbs and the cheese. We don’t eat radishes too often because I’m averse- a childhood of eating them plain at bad taco stands- but I’ll see If I can’t rustle up some “soil” to make these. Thanks.

  • Janet

    I love this idea. Sort of radishes from right out of the garden. With the radish I see a skinny piece of flat bread to imitate the popsicle marker. The flat bread can scrape up all the cheese goodness in the cup.

  • http://www.cookingworld.biz Pam Morris

    I would have thought to put these combination together, what a neat idea! I love the color of radishes but find them bit on spicier side.

  • Alisa Morov

    Before the Figaro Madame article Trish Deseine did her take on the Noma radish in the great book “Comme Au Resto” (which FM sorta kinda stole)

  • Fad Gadget

    I made the soil to Noma’s original recipe, which turned out to be very easy, for a Sunday lunch. It is basically flour of malt (as opposed to malted flour), mixed with ground hazelnuts, which are roasted with a little beer and finally mixed with melted butter. It tastes quite bland, but is indisputably soil-like. With a base of mashed potato, a layer of “soil” and some young vegetables, it is quite impressive. Here is a link to the Noma recipe.

  • http://onevanillabean.wordpress.com Cecilia

    This is such a great idea, plus I love radishes. Will definitely serve this over the summer. :O)

  • Alisa Morov

    I brought “IT”to your attention on June 10, 2010 – you ignorned that!

  • Alisa Morov

    AND it was part of article about Trish Deseine’s book. It was NOT uncredited in Madame Figaro. jeeez

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    I think this has gone on long enough. I would understand the outrage if I had taken credit for this recipe or its simplification, but I didn’t: I linked to the different sources that inspired this post.

    The recipe on the Madame Figaro website, which I found via a search, is this one. Anyone can see that this page does not mention the author of the recipe, and does not link back to the main article.

  • http://trainingtable.blogspot.com/ 12th Man

    Summer Solstice is today, but here’s an astronomical factoid if you need another reason to celebrate the warmer weather. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and also marks the point where Earth is furthest from the sun. But, because of inertia, July 4-5 are typically the “slowest” days of the year: the days in which Earth’s orbital speed is the slowest. That’s why everyone is so laid back in the summer!

  • David

    sheesh even i can see how it happened; and i’m a total dummy.
    the article on the Figaro site about TD’s book references the recipe, but the recipe doesn’t reference the article. So if you land on the recipe, you can only cite the link (which you did).
    what a lot of fuss and name calling which could’ve been resolved by a simple private message.

  • http://www.familyfoodies.com Glenda Thomas

    How absolutely imaginative!
    The soil really looks like dirt.
    This looks too good to eat!
    Thanks!

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