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Merrill's baby Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: Radishes are a surprise hit.
One of my least impressive moments as an adult so far involved feeding a child. Not my own, but my nephew. A couple of summers ago, when he was 2, I made my take on Lobster Fra Diavolo for a family dinner in Maine. It would be the perfect meal, I thought: the grownups would get to eat all the lobster, and what kid doesn't love spaghetti?
What I forgot is that the dish has the word "Diavolo" in it for a reason. I went ahead and blithely seasoned the sauce with my usual generous shower of red pepper flakes, oblivious to the fact that there were sensitive little mouths to consider.
At dinner, my nephew took his first bite of spaghetti and almost immediately turned to my sister, eyes widening in confusion and horror: "Mommy, help!"
Ever since that sad/sweet/hilarious episode, I've been mindful of children and heat tolerance. And I admit I've been a little cautious about feeding Clara anything with lots of pepper or spice.
A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for lunch and my friend Guillermo brought a radish salad. The radishes were peppery and crisp, sliced into paper thin moons and tossed with wild arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and lots of Pecorino.
Sitting on my lap at the table, Clara plucked a radish slice off my plate and put it in her mouth. First she sucked off all the tangy, cheesy dressing, and then she ate the radish itself, reaching for another slice before she'd swallowed the first. Now she munches on radishes the same way she does cucumbers or slices of red pepper.
It may be time to dig up that Lobster Diavolo recipe.
2 tablespoons finely grated plus 3 tablespoons coarsely grated Pecorino
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch radishes, trimmed and scrubbed
4 cups tightly packed wild arugula, rinsed and thoroughly dried
Photos by James Ransom