It sounds trite, but it’s true: sometimes the simplest things are the best.
I’ve been putting a lot of effort into being creative in the kitchen lately, partly as a distraction from exam stress, and partly because I felt like I had fallen into a bit of a rut. Ruts are soul-killing. They can be body-killing, too, unless you have an extraordinarily nutritionally balanced rut. But the most beautiful thing I’ve eaten all month is this: just bread, butter, radishes, and salt. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult or exotic, but oh so much more than the sum of its parts.
Of course, the better the ingredients you start with, the better the end result.
Start with the bread. You could use any good savory loaf—a dense pumpernickel, a whole wheat miche, even a nice crusty baguette. I made my own. I’ve been wanting to try making rye bread for a while now, and this version turned out quite well, with just enough rye to add flavour but not so much that it is too heavy for sandwiches. I plan on eating the rest of the loaf with peanut butter and bananas because this poem is currently taped to my wall.
Butter. Unsalted. Try to get it from cows who have eaten real grass—the flavour really shines here. If you want to go all out, you could even make your own with cream, a mason jar, and a lot of shaking. My family used to do that for Thanksgiving every year. I just used storebought this time!
This time of year, you can find radishes at markets, piled high like heaps of rubies. These are the first radishes of the season, tender and cool, without the peppery bite that hot days give them. Get two or three times as many as you think you’ll need, because they are very “more-ish.”
And lastly, salt. I wouldn’t call myself a salt snob. I haven’t the funds to try fancy salts from all over the world, pink Himalayan rock salt, Hawaiian sea salt, smoked salt, and so on. But I do like my salt to be salt, not anti-caking agents and sugar.
Four simple ingredients. One heck of a lunch.
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads. Follow the recipe for Pierre’s Sourdough Loaf, but in the initial step, substitute 1 3/4 C rye flour for the whole wheat. I baked it in a round loaf rather than a long one.
- 2 slices good bread, such as rye bread
- butter, softened
- 3-4 radishes, sliced
- a few pinches sea salt
Spread the butter on the bread and arrange radish slices on top. Sprinkle on sea salt and devour.