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Farmer Lee Jones—Rach's "favorite veg head in a bib and a bow tie"—and his team at The Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio, share their colorful salad with an unexpected twist: under the elegant tumble of shaved radishes is a perfectly poached egg yolk set in a pillow of creme fraiche. The fat from the yolk and cream helps mellow the bite of the radish. It's a lovely combination.
You can use any variety of radishes or, really, any variety of raw shaved vegetables that you like. (For aesthetics, aim to use vegetables that have the approximate circumference of a golf ball.) Soaking shaved root vegetables in ice water gives them new life, making them extraordinarily crisp. This is because the cellular walls swell with water so they become very rigid. As a bonus for soaking them, the spicy and earthy flavors of the vegetables soften, making them more pleasant to eat when raw.
Winter radishes, such as black radishes, daikon and watermelon radishes, have a delicate peppery flavor. However, the flavor and intensity can vary from mildly hot to very pungent and somewhat bitter, depending on the age and size. They're great thinly shaved or grated raw in a salad or slaw, or sauteed, roasted, braised or even pickled (See how Rach uses watermelon radishes in her Thai-Style Sloppy Joes).
Pro Tips from Lee: For short-term storage, keep radishes in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth in a plastic bag. For longer-term storage, freeze them: cut them into smaller pieces and blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, don't discard the radish leaves—you can eat them! Use them the way you would use spinach, chard or kale. Cooking them removes the fuzzy mouth feel.
For more recipes from The Culinary Vegetable Institute, check out their Old-School Creamed Spinach and Smashed Jerusalem Artichokes. Rach also makes this lovely pureed soup with their Jerusalem artichokes.
Remove the tops from the radishes and carefully shave the roots on the thinnest setting of a mandolin while maintaining round slices. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water while you prepare the rest of the dish. (You can also refrigerate them in the water overnight.)
Preheat the oven to 170°F (or slightly higher if your oven won't go that low).
Pour the oil into a small oven-safe dish large enough to hold the egg yolks in a single layer. Gently add the yolks to the oil. If they are not completely submerged, add more oil to cover them. Poach the yolks in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven temperature; you want to have soft-poached warm yolks that are very gently cooked and still runny. Remove the dish from the oven and set aside.
Drain the radishes from the water and dry them. (Save the water and use it to water your plants or chickens.) Spoon the creme fraiche into 6 small shallow bowls and use the back of your spoon to make a well in each portion.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the yolks to the creme fraiche wells, reserving the oil. Carefully and artfully distribute the radishes high and tight over the top of each yolk so you can barely see it. Pick your flower petals (if using) and evenly distribute them over the top. Drizzle a bit of the cooking olive oil over the plates, season with the flaky salt and serve.