Food Focus: Radishes

Poor little radishes. They’ve been relegated to duty as a garnish, or, if they’re lucky, a spicy addition to a salad. But beyond that, many spend their creative juices focused on other produce. Not cool. It’s time for some radish education! Radishes are packed with flavor, nutrition and look beautiful on the plate. Pick up a bunch on your next shopping trip. You’ll be surprised by their incredible taste.

What do they look like?

Radishes are a root veggie that typically have a small, round, crimson red bulb topped with slightly-fuzzy, edible greens on top. If you’re browsing the farmer’s market, you’ll probably see a wide variety of colors and shapes beyond the standard red globe. Tip: Look for hot pink, white, yellow, purple, and dark red heirloom varieties that come in all shapes and sizes.

What do they taste like?

When eaten raw, radishes are spicy, crisp, and zesty. Varieties can range from very spicy (similar to the heat of raw garlic) to very mild. Cooking brings out the sweetness and milds the spice.

Radish greens are also edible and have a flavor similar to mild spinach. The fuzzy texture of raw radish greens can be a bit off-putting to some folks, so it’s recommending that you eat them cooked.

Why are they good for me?

As a natural diuretic, radishes are a good veggie to keep your kidneys and urinary tract clean and healthy. Radishes are also rich in vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber, all important in the prevention of cancers.

It has also been stated that radishes have special stomach-soothing properties and can help with digestion.

When and where do I get it?

Standard red globe radishes are available nearly year-round in most major supermarkets. But for the best flavor, color, and crunch, check out your local farmer’s market during late Spring or early Summer, and then again in the Fall.

Radishes are also one of the easiest and quickest producing veggies you can grow in your own garden. Plant a few radish seeds in early Spring and within 4-6 weeks (with almost no maintenance) you’ll have fresh radishes to snack on.

How do I prepare radishes?

Most people eat radishes raw by washing them well and then slicing off the greens. You can eat them whole (dip those babies in hummus) or slice them thinly to add a spicy crunch to salads. You can also roast radishes in a hot oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to get a sweet, delicious side dish that has a flavor and texture similar to cooked zucchini.

To cook radish greens, saute them in a bit of butter or oil until tender and wilted. Or, they work really well in soups and stews. You see radish greens used frequently in a creamy bisque (see below for a recipe suggestion).

What are some good recipes?

After you’ve gotten your fill of eating radishes raw, try out some of these adventurous radish recipes:

What’s your favorite way to eat radishes?

Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends—you can follow her on Twitter: @backtoherroots.

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!

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