First-of-Spring Radish Salad with Burrata

By Emily Connor, Photography by Jennifer Chase

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Nothing quite screams “spring” to me like the first radishes that hit the farm stands. Here I’ve thinly sliced and marinated radishes in a spunky lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, tossed them with peppery watercress and served them up with creamy, glorious burrata. It’s a low effort, high impact salad that can easily go from light lunch to appetizer (especially with crostini) to a first course for dinner.

First-of-Spring Radish Salad with Burrata
4 servings

  • 8 to 10 medium-sized radishes (about ½ pound), thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

  • A few big handfuls of watercress, arugula or radish greens (if they’re tender), about 1 to 2 cups

  • 8 ounces burrata, at room temperature

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Crostini for serving (optional)

Lemon-anchovy vinaigrette

  • 3 flat-fillet anchovies

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot

  • 1 teaspoon capers, coarsely chopped

  • Finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Make the lemon-anchovy vinaigrette. Mince and smash the anchovies into a paste with the side of your knife. In a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the anchovies, shallots, capers, lemon zest and juice, and a few pinches of salt. Let macerate for 5 minutes, then add the olive oil, shaking to emulsify. Taste and adjust the acid and seasoning.

In a small bowl, combine radishes and mint. Add all of the vinaigrette, tossing to fully coat the radishes. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes (or up to 30 minutes) in the refrigerator. 

To assemble the salad, strain the radishes with a slotted spoon (or with your hands) to remove as much vinaigrette as possible, and pile them on 1 side of a serving platter. Toss with the watercress; there should be enough vinaigrette clinging to the radishes to dress the greens. Add the burrata next to the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Serve immediately, with crostini on the side (if using).

Uchepos Patzcuaro (Michoacán-Style Fresh Corn Tamales)

Recipe by Chef Christian Irabién, Chef at Aparo, opening this fall in DC's historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Photography by Jennifer Chase.

Uchepos patzcuaro made with Irabién's signature recipe.

Uchepos patzcuaro made with Irabién's signature recipe.

Uchepos Patzcuaro
(Yields 15 tamales.)

30 corn husks
11 cups sweet yellow corn kernels, about 15 ears of corn  
4 ounces unsalted butter
½  cup whole milk
3 tablespoons Crema Mexicana de Rancho
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 ounces semolina flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar

To finish:

Queso fresco (crumbled), Cornuts cut into small dice (plain, toasted and ground)

Take the dry corn husks and submerge in warm water, to rehydrate, for at least 2 hours before making your tamales. They need to be pliable.

With a knife, remove kernels from cobs, reserving 2 cups of whole kernels. With the back of the knife scrape the cobs to extract as much of the starchy corn milk as possible. Discard cobs (or save them to make a nice corn stock later with just some water and bay leaves)

In a blender, add all ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer the blended paste to a mixing bowl, fold in the remaining kernels with the corn mix.

Place equal portions of 1/2 cup of corn mix inside the corn husks and form your tamales by folding them.

Next, steam the tamales with a tamale steamer, which you can buy pretty much at any Latin market in the DMV or do as I like to do and use a Chinese dumpling steamer when making a small batch at home, on top of a sauce pot with boiling water.

Steam tamales for 1 hour (check often that your steamer has water, add some more if it is drying out, don’t burn the tamales or your fingers!) Remove the tamales from steam and allow to set for 20 minutes.

To serve, tear the corn husk, allowing only the bottom to serve as both a vessel and decor. Sprinkle with ground cornuts to add some texture. Drizzle with the Poblano Puree for color, earthiness and spice. Add one or two small cubes of queso fresco for garnish.

Crema Mexicana de Rancho (Ranch-Style Mexican Cream)
(Yield 2 cups)

1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons kosher salt

In a bowl, whisk sour cream with heavy cream and salt until evenly distributed. Your cream should be loose enough to drizzle, but thick enough to coat a spoon. Adjust the thickness by adding more sour cream or more heavy cream depending on which way you're trying to go. If you do, ensure you adjust your salt content too, the cream should be nice and salty.

Yield: 2 cups

***

Christian Irabien is a Mexican native who has led teams in renowned kitchens, receiving accolades for his Executive Chef role at Calavera in Oakland, Ca. and Jose Andrés’Oyamel in Washington, DC. Christian has been an integral part of the rising DC restaurant scene, collaborating with non-profits, restaurants, food banks and farms in the area as an active participant for better working conditions and wages for restaurant workers; while also strongly advocating for a better local food system. His restaurant, Amparo, will open later this fall at 3110 Mount Pleasant St NW in the historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of D.C.

Ensalada de Nopalitos con Quelites (Fresh Cactus Salad with Field Greens)

Recipe by Christian Irabién, Chef at Aparo, opening this fall in DC's historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Photography by Jennifer Chase.

Photo by Jennifer Chase.

Photo by Jennifer Chase.

Servings: 6

You should be able to find cactus with the needles removed, but if you don’t, you can ask nicely at the store to clean them for you. Or, you swiftly remove the needles by scraping them with a knife. Watch those prickles, they're small and annoying when they get inside your skin!

2 pounds cactus paddles, needles removed
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons white pepper (or substitute black pepper)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, zested
1/3 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed and strained
1 teaspoon dry oregano, ground
2 1/2 cups blueberries
5 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, small diced
2 bunches purslane, washed and trimmed of thick stems (substitute watercress)

In a mixing bowl, coat your cactus paddles evenly with half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Throw on the grill to get some nice char marks and dilute some of the cactus mucilage. Remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, add the remaining olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, 1/2 cup of blue berries, 3 tablespoons salt, oregano, and cilantro whisk until evenly incorporated to make the dressing. Reserve.

Cut cactus into manageable strips, and coat with remaining salt, about a cup or so - heavily salted - and place on a strainer to allow the salt to extract the remaining mucilage - I like to let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Take the cactus and rinse under cold water to remove all the excess salt and place into a large mixing bowl. Add to the bowl the remaining blue berries, red onion, and dressing - toss freely.

Garnish with queso fresco crumbs and purslane vines.

***

Christian Irabien is a Mexican native who has led teams in renowned kitchens, receiving accolades for his Executive Chef role at Calavera in Oakland, Ca. and Jose Andrés’Oyamel in Washington, DC. Christian has been an integral part of the rising DC restaurant scene, collaborating with non-profits, restaurants, food banks and farms in the area as an active participant for better working conditions and wages for restaurant workers; while also strongly advocating for a better local food system. His restaurant, Amparo, will open later this fall at 3110 Mount Pleasant St NW in the historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of D.C.