Radishes rank among the humblest of vegetables. We take them for granted as there’s “never any doubt” with radishes, they’re always the same red globes with white centers and green leaves.
But that was before heirloom radishes began brightening the tables at farmers’ markets during the spring and summer months. Radishes now come in unexpected shapes and colors such as the long white icicle radishes, the thin red and white French Breakfast radishes and the purple, red, white and rose pink Easter egg radishes. Such fun!
A Recipe for Radishes?
Have you ever noticed that radishes are rarely found listed as an ingredient in recipes? For the few ways we and the Peter Rabbits of the world eat radishes, recipes aren’t necessary. They are usually sliced or diced and tossed into salads or left whole as a spot of color on vegetable and dip platters. In France they are eaten raw, sliced as a topping for an open-faced sandwich along with a bit of salt, good butter and crusty bread. And one of my favorite memories is of my mother carefully carving whole radishes into “radish roses” as edible garnishes for holiday meals. I loved watching them “flower” when placed into ice water.
Roast a radish
There’s nutrition to be had in radishes along with their crunch and zing. However, roasting and stir-frying radishes may be the only way we will eat enough radishes to benefit from their vitamins, iron and minimal, very minimal calories. Cooking radishes makes them not only sweet and succulent but also mellows their bite. And a secret here, hot, roasted radishes pop with flavor and juiciness when you eat them whole. 😉
Radish greens can be eaten raw. Or, sauté the younger leaves by themselves with a little garlic, or sauté them along with spinach, beet greens and/or Swiss chard for a tasty mélange.
Quick rewards from little effort
Radishes are an essential vegetable for new and especially young gardeners, as their very short growing season quickly rewards the gardener with an edible plant after very little effort. Although in Montana we wait until the first of May for the first radish seeds to go into the ground, for some parts of the country, now’s the time to plant radishes while the ground and weather are still cool as early radishes prefer the cooler months of spring.
When you’re looking for something new to enjoy this spring, reconsider the humble radish. Plant a few seeds and watch them grow. Then enjoy them raw, of course, but also roasted and you may never take radishes for granted again.
Roasted radishes are a delicious side dish, appetizer or a tasty addition to stir-fries. Salty, sour umeboshi vinegar is a digestive that brightens the earthiness of roasted radishes. The thinly-sliced radish greens amp up the radish flavor. When you can find them, roast an assortment of radish sizes and colors for a livelier presentation. For a tasty and colorful variation: toss the hot radishes with some crumbled feta cheese.
Serves 2 – 4
2 dozen medium-large radishes, about 3 bunches
1½ tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon umeboshi (“ume”) vinegar OR fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced radish greens
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Wash, trim and dry the radishes, saving all but a few of the greens for another use.
Toss the dry radishes with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them onto a parchment-lined baking pan.
Remove them to a serving bowl and toss with either the ume vinegar OR fresh lemon juice, and radish greens. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Click on Roasted Radishes w/ Radish Greens & Umeboshi Vinegar for a printable version of this recipe without images.