There’s so much more to the retiring radish than you ever knew
Radishes are the Rodney Dangerfield of the garden vegetables. They really don’t get the respect they deserve. They are most often relegated as a colorful afterthought to a salad or ignored completely.
I’ve come to love the versatility of the humble radish. They are hardy and are one of the first eager arrivals in my spring garden. Radishes tide me over as I wait for the veggies around them to mature.
What’s more, radishes are loaded with vitamin C, as well as being a good source of folate, fiber, riboflavin and potassium. They’re pretty, they’re tasty, and they’re good for you. What’s not to love?
My friend Rebecca, a food blogger and recipe developer of rare talent, introduced me to the joys of a perfect French radish—they’re the long, graceful version—split in half, smeared with butter and topped with flaked sea salt. If you haven’t tried a radish like this, you must drop everything and do so immediately…c’est magnifique!
In a quest to make the most of my abundant radish crop, I’ve gotten creative when it comes to deploying the radish troops. One of my favorite ways to enjoy these vivid veggies is to simply toss them in olive oil, top them with chopped radish greens and a little salt and roast. This is a side dish that is ridiculously easy to prepare as well as fresh, colorful and totally delicious.
And speaking of radish greens, they’re completely edible and perfect to use as a garnish or in salads and sautéed vegetables.
Another brilliant use of this spicy, crunchy root is in raita, a yogurt-based dish that originated in India. A raita is often prepared with cucumbers, but the addition of peppery radishes gives this tasty dish a zesty boost. You can use it as an accompaniment to fish or meat or simply spread it on warm pita bread.
RADISH & CUCUMBER RAITA
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Cabot)
1/3 cup chopped radish greens or chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup coarsely grated English cucumber
1/2 cup coarsely grated radishes
a pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, radish greens and julienned radishes and serve with fresh vegetables, fish, meat or warm pita bread.
Go to your garden, your local farmer’s market, your CSA box or your grocery store and buy some pretty radishes. Don’t get the huge ones, as they are likely pithy, mealy and past their sell-by date. Wash the radishes—including the greens—a few times to make sure they’re squeaky clean.
Cut the greens off and set them aside. Slice the radishes in half, lay them cut side down on a baking sheet. Chop a handful of greens and sprinkle liberally on top of the sliced radishes. Drizzle it all with good olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast for anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of your radishes.
RADISHES—they’re not just for salads anymore
Fun with spring’s spiciest veggie!
Sandwiches: Slice them thin and add them to your ham and cheese or egg salad sandwich for a bit of a kick.
With Dips & Aiolis: Crunchy, peppery radishes are a perfect balance to cool, creamy dips and aiolis.
With Butter & Salt: So easy, so divine.
Pickled: Pickling is a great way to preserve radishes. They make a yummy addition to all kinds of side dishes.
Topping for Smoked Salmon: Do you crave a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon? Try adding thinly sliced radishes to the mix. You can thank me later.
In Slaw: One of my favorite radish applications is adding them to a cabbage and carrot slaw. They up the slaw game significantly.
An Avocado Toast Topper: Avocado toast is the current darling of the food world. Add sliced radishes for color, crunch and a spicy counterpoint to the creaminess of the avocados.
Sautéed with Spinach: A handful of fresh chopped radish greens will give plain sautéed spinach just the boost it needs to take it to the next level.
Snacking: Keep clean, chilled whole radishes in a container in your refrigerator. These cold, crisp, spicy veggies are the perfect summer snack.
Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Follow her on Instagram: @candacekaru or at www.candacekaru.com.