Horseradish: more than just a condiment

Expand your palate with a popular Passover ingredient.

If food items had to win a beauty contest to gain space in your fridge, horseradish would, no doubt, not make the cut. Misshapen, dull colored, and just generally unattractive, horseradish is the ugly duckling of the root vegetable world. Horseradish has been demoted to condiment status for many people, likely appearing only once a year piled on top of gefilte fish. 

I have had a recent awakening with the misunderstood, piquant root and have fallen hopelessly in love. Just a sprinkle of freshly grated horseradish brightens flavors and even intensifies them. I grate fresh horseradish over thin slices of raw tuna and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the flavor of the fish just sings. 

Making a gremolata with freshly grated horseradish clears the palate from the heady and rich beef or lamb, making the next bite just as exciting as the first. Adding horseradish to yogurt and serving it as a dip for veggies or tossed shredded cabbage as a slaw is simple and delicious. Adding horseradish to mashed potatoes gives the potatoes--which usually land flat on the palate--a nutty flavor. 

Horseradish is so much better grated right at the moment you need it. The jarred stuff just doesn't cut the mustard (chuckle) and has a ho-hum flavor. The fresh stuff is exciting and lively. The challenge with the fresh stuff is that it goes from wow to lackluster in a matter of hours. To keep the flavor going, grate fresh horseradish either with a box grater or food processor. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar (apple cider or white) and a couple of tablespoons of water. Seal the mixture in a container with a lid and refrigerate. This method will keep the zing in your horseradish.


Beet and Horseradish Relish 

1 4-inch piece of horseradish, peeled

1 medium red beet, peeled

1 medium carrot, peeled

3 tablespoons good quality apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey 

1 teaspoon sea salt

1.      Grate horseradish either in a food processor or with a box grater.

2.      Grate beet and carrot. Combine in a mixing bowl with horseradish. Add vinegar, honey, and salt.

3.      Serve with raw fish, smoked fish, or sprinkled over veggies, chicken, beef, salad, or whatever!

4.      Horseradish is best served immediately after grating--as it loses pungency over time. This relish can be stored for up to 1 day, covered, in the refrigerator.


Parsley, Orange, and Horseradish Gremolata

Horseradish pairs well with citrus fruits. The horseradish enhances the citrus notes. A gremolata is an Italian sauce sprinkled on top of rich, braised dishes to brighten and enliven the flavors. Try this gremolata sprinkled on top of your next brisket, short ribs, osso buco, beef stew, or any richly flavored dish.

½ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane

Zest and juice of 1 orange

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

Pinch of crushed red chili flakes

½ teaspoon sea salt

1.      Mix parsley, garlic, zest and juice, extra virgin olive oil, horseradish, pepper flakes, and salt together.

2.      Before serving, sprinkle gremolata on top of richly braised dishes for a POP of flavor.


Mashed Potatoes with Horseradish and Garlic

The first bite of mashed potatoes is always so great and then they kind of lose their luster. Let's face it, the creaminess is great, but the flavor is boring!

A scoop of horseradish stirred in adds some KAPOW to potatoes and suddenly boring becomes brilliant

Serves 5+

2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into dice

Extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1½ cups chicken stock

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup grated horseradish

¼ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil

Garnishes: thinly sliced scallions, chives, crispy shallots

1.      Place a large sauté pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium heat. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and starting to soften (about 5 minutes).

2.      Add stock and cover pan. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or immersion blender until creamy.

3.      Add salt, pepper, horseradish and evoo. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

4.      Garnish and serve.


Laura Frankel is a kosher chef and cookbook author. Previously, she was the Culinary Director for Jamie Geller's Test Kitchen and Kosher Network International. She is the founder of Shallots Restaurant and served as Executive Chef for Wolfgang Puck.  

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