Horseradish brings us closer to God. During Passover, for many Jews, it represents the bitterness of enslavement. Others experience a sacred moment after eating too much horseradish, when the insane pain rocketing through the brain becomes so unbearable that they plead to their God to make it go away. Eventually the tears subside, the fire dampens and their faith is once again restored.
What is it?
Fresh horseradish is: A) an incredibly pungent root in the mustard family of vegetables, which includes turnips, kale, mustard greens and broccoli raab; B) an anti-cancer compound; C) damned tasty; or D) all of the above*.
With a soil composition well-suited to growing this intense veggie, Southern Illinois is home to nearly 85 percent of the world’s horseradish production. Who knew? Well, you would if you’ve attended the International Horseradish Festival, held each year in Collinsville. Oh, and that green wasabi paste that makes you screech like a banshee any time you get a big dollop in your sushi? That’s most likely standard horseradish mixed with green food coloring.
How do I use it?
The uses for fresh horseradish most often revolve around its prepared form. Grinding it fresh allows you to control the volatile oils that provide the intensity of spice. Make prepared horseradish at home by processing the root with vinegar or water or a combination of the two liquids and a pinch of sea salt. Add this prepared horseradish to sour cream for a great accompaniment to a prime rib roast or a piquant counterpoint to smoked trout. It is essential in cocktail sauce for steamed shrimp and for that eye-opening jolt in a great Bloody Mary.
* The correct answer, of course, is D.
Horseradish Potato Salad
By Darin Jennings, Hartford Coffee Co.
When the Hartford team members wanted a potato salad that tasted a tad different and a bit zingy, they experimented with horseradish. The delicate balance between tuber and root, of smooth potato and tangy horseradish, makes this piquant side a customer favorite. Make a day ahead for best results.
Serves | 6 to 8 |
- 2 lbs baked potatoes, skin on, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- ½ cup finely minced parsley
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 4 Tbsp prepared horseradish
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
| Preparation | In a large bowl, gently toss diced baked potatoes with onion, celery and parsley. In a different bowl, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, pepper and salt and stir to blend the dressing evenly. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and gently turn with a spatula. Take care not to overmix.
Stop by Straub's to pick up more delicious recipes featuring horseradish root. Visit straubs.com for information on its four locations.