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Kimberley Hasselbrink's new cookbook, Vibrant Food, is built around her reverence for seasonality. It's organized by time of year and type of produce, conscientiously arranged by timing of harvest. The opening chapter, Spring, for instance, is broken down to Spring Greens, Alliums, Spring Roots, Rhubarb, and Flowers. Many of the primary ingredients in this chapter, particularly, are nearly impossible to find out of season, like fresh chickpeas, fava beans, nettles, and ramps. Luckily, I'm a sucker for the bright intensity of the humble and accessible radish, which makes a hot pink appearance in the Spring Roots section. After a stint in a hot pan with butter, their peppery bite is slightly mellowed, but the remaining juicy crunch, vivid color, and distinctive pungency offsets the simple, creamy risotto.
Hasselbrink uses edamame as a riff on the classic choice for risotto: fresh peas. I have to admit, I don't entirely get her decision; as attuned to seasonal eating as she is, why trade in-season spring peas for late summer's soybeans? It's easy enough to find fine frozen options, but I would actually prefer the sweet burst of peas over the firmer bite of the edamame, anyway.
Why I picked this recipe: 1) It is one of the few Spring options with ingredients available in the already sweltering Southern summer. 2) I heart radishes.
What worked: I love how the juicy, spicy radishes perk up the risotto—they really do make it feel Spring-y—and they are quite beautiful, to Hasselbrink's point. The risotto itself is a very tasty, basic recipe, and the proportions of the add-ins (the thyme, the cheese and the edamame) are spot-on.
What didn't: Some of my radishes were large, and only cutting them in half made for uneven and lengthy cooking; plus, they were unwieldy to eat with the risotto. I would suggest cutting them into at least quarters, depending on the size. Also, I wanted a bit more salt in the risotto than the prescribed amount. And a small thing—I didn't appreciate having to open a new quart of broth for the 4 1/2 cup total. I would rather that 1/2 cup be simply water or, better, wine.
Suggested tweaks: If it's spring, and you can find fresh peas, I say go for it.
Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Food, written and photographed by Kimberley Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).