My mother would never buy this root vegetable and as a result, to this day, whenever I eat it, I feel like I am tasting some exotic product decked in lovely purple, with a pungent flavor and a musical name. Radish greens are also edible, something I have not yet told my mother.
The name ravanello (often pronounced rapanello) comes from rafanello, which is a diminutive of rafano, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana).
In Italy ravanelli are usually served with other raw vegetables (carrots, celery, fennel, etc.) to be dipped into pinzimonio, a sauce made of olive oil, salt and pepper (and possibly vinegar or lemon juice).
I believe (and certainly may be wrong) that pinzimonio in this country has given rise to the custom of offering small plates of olive oil-based dip together with bread or plain focaccia, a custom I have observed in many restaurants, at least in the Bay Area. However, when a plate of verdure in pinzimonio is served in Italy, usually as an appetizer, each guest gets his or her own small plate of sauce, so that there is no movement of oil-dripping morsels across the table. The guest is also provided with a bowl of water in which to wash his or her fingertips, which would otherwise leave around oily fingerprints.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event started by Kalyn's Kitchen, hosted this week by Rachel's Bite. I got inspired to write this post by reading several entries from previous weeks that featured radish. Here's the roundup of WHB #87, though for some reason my post is not listed.