A celebration of seasonal cooking, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, by Ben Towill, Phil Winser and Nick Wilber with Julia Turshen, is a luscious new cookbook aiming to make you walk the walk of farmers market eating. Just published in October by Rizzoli, the chunky tome is divided into four sections — all the better to help you focus on what is fresh now.
Friends since childhood in England, Towill and Winser opened the Fat Radish restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York in 2010, bringing Nick Wilber on as chef. The trio embarked on an odyssey to bring nourishing food, heavy on the vegetables, with a soupcon of British influence to downtown Manhattan.
Interestingly, Towill had a bout with chronic fatigue syndrome as a teenager and connected his exhaustion with what he ate. “I began healing myself through diet,” he writes in the introduction. Spurred on by encouraging results, Towill found the adage “You are what you eat” to be more true in his case than he'd ever imagined.
The love for fresh ingredients shines through The Fat Radish, in page after page of brightly colored dishes. The photos, by Nicole Franzen, capture the variety of items and make you want to attack your nearest farmers market and get crackin’.
The section on fall embraces ingredients such as mushrooms, cauliflower, Swiss chard and squash so fully that the loss of summer hardly stings. The riot of warmth in the yellow, orange and purple beet chips make a great and “unexpected alternative to the beloved potato chip and go great with cocktails.” The exceedingly simple recipe is a relief, welcoming everyone to partake in healthier eating without fear of intensive labor or complicated instructions.
While many if not most of the recipes are vegetarian, there are meat options, still studded with produce. The scallops with sweet potato, golden beet mash and caper salsa verde is much easier to prepare than it sounds and “is a great dish for a dinner party, since the dressing and mash can be made ahead and the impressive-looking scallops take just minutes to prepare.”
The Fat Radish manages to get at what people want to eat now – healthy food with enough flavor and variation to keep it interesting. The meals often work for one or can be served to great effect. The cookbook even offers up easy sides, such as homemade Branston pickle, a mix of rutabaga, carrots, dates and a few other ingredients, which can be made ahead and used “as a sort of pickled chutney.” Served with grilled cheese sandwiches, the pickle most definitely elevates an otherwise lackluster offering.
For those who fear the kitchen, as well as those who have mastered it, The Fat Radish makes an up-to-the-minute addition to any cookbook shelf. And if you can’t get to the restaurant, why not do it yourself and call it a day?
Turn the page for a delicious recipe from The Fat Radish...
Carrot and avocado salad with hijiki and crispy kale
From: The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries By Ben Towill, Phil Winser, and Nick Wilber with Julia Turshen
1?4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1?4 cup mirin
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1?2 ounce dried hijiki (about 1?4 cup), rinsed and soaked in warm water for
15 minutes, drained
1 bunch curly kale, leaves torn into small pieces, stems discarded 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1?2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1?2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 pounds heirloom carrots, scrubbed, ends trimmed
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into wedges
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger. Add the drained hijiki and set the mixture aside.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Place the kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with five spice powder and salt. Place the kale in the oven and bake, turning the leaves once, until crispy, about 20 minutes. Set the kale aside.
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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the carrots. Cook until they’re nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cut them in half lengthwise.
Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add the carrots to the pan and cook, stirring until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a large bowl.
Spoon the hijiki and its marinade over the carrots, add the crispy kale and the avocado wedges and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, by Ben Towill, Phil Winser and Nick Wilber with Julia Turshen. Copyright © 2014, published by Rizzoli. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Nicole Franzen.