Available in different colors and shapes, radishes enliven salads and other dishes.
By Lisa James
What’s red, round and found in salads across the country?
If “radish” was your answer, you would be half right. Those spicy little globes—variety name, Cherry Belle—are the most popular. But they aren’t the only radishes around. Some types are pure white, such as the carrot-shaped White Icicle; others are two-toned, such as the red-and-white French Breakfast. Some sport black skins or purple flesh, while others are egg-shaped. Asian varieties such as the large white daikon have become commonplace in the US. Some radishes are grown commercially for their seeds, which are pressed for oil.
All radishes share a favorable nutrient profile including healthy amounts of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C, along with calcium, magnesium and vitamins B2 and B6. The radish’s flavorful bite comes from glucosinolates, substances that may help fight cancer. Radishes also
contain powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanidins.
You don’t have to be a serious gardener to produce your own radishes, which are so easy to grow that they are often found in children’s gardens. Radishes need just a small patch of moist soil in full sun, where you can expect them to germinate within a week and mature within a month. Radishes are best grown in spring and fall; in hot weather the plants tend to bolt, sending up flower stalks that render the roots inedible.
You can buy radishes with or without their leafy tops, which should be separated from the roots. Bagged in plastic, the roots will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
The overwhelming majority of radishes find their way into salads, slaws and raw vegetable platters.
But radishes can also be lightly steamed or sautéed, roasted with other root vegetables or added to stir-frys. Some people use the tops to make soup. The daikon radish is often pickled.
Store-bought or homegrown, red or white, round or long: There’s a radish for every taste.
Celery, Fennel and Radish Salad
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and julienned
4 celery stalks, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2” pieces
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp dried
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 radishes, trimmed and sliced thin
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lb ricotta salata cheese, cut into 1/4” slices
(ricotta that’s been pressed, salted and dried)
1. Put the fennel and celery in a large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and tarragon in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Pour half over the salad and toss to coat. Add the radishes, salt and pepper to taste, and toss again.
2. Drizzle some more dressing over the salad and sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Drizzle with more dressing and add more pepper, if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Serves 6. Analysis per serving: 131 calories, 3g protein, 12g fat
(3g saturated), 2g fiber, 5g carbohydrate, 115 mg sodium
Reprinted with permission from Eat Greens: Seasonal
Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato (Running Press, www.runningpresscooks.com)