In Season: Radishes

by in In Season, May 28, 2009

radishes
Radishes are my favorite veggie. Seriously. Yeah, they’re an unusual choice, but I grew up snacking on them raw. Not sure you’re a fan? Well, here are some ways to enjoy them, raw or cooked.

When, Where & What?
In Latin the word radix means “root,” which makes sense since the radish is from the root of the plant. When I was a girl, I’d pull fresh radishes from the ground and bring them in the house for dinnertime. They’re relatively easy to grow if you have a bit of room; the National Gardening Association has some good info on growing them.

Believe it or not, radishes are from the mustard family — and are thought to have originated in western Asia. You will find them in various colors, ranging from white to red to purple to black. They can be oval, round or elongated. Check your local farmers’ market for different varieties. The red-skinned radishes — my personal fave — are most popular in the U.S.; they have a mild to peppery flavor. You’ll find daikon radishes, which are white and have crisp, milder flavor more in Japanese cuisine.

Nutrition Info
Radishes have 20 calories per cup and are high in vitamins C — a cup serving gives you 25% of your daily need. They also contain other nutrients like potassium (important for muscle health), folate (important for pregnant women) and calcium (good for bones). Really, they’re low-calorie superstars. The black varieties also contain antioxidants, but they’re tougher to find (call your local specialty store or ask around the farmers’ market).

What To Do With Radishes
This is very important: wash your radishes well and remove any dirt or sand before you eat them. Soaking them for 20 minutes to 2 hours increases their crispiness. I wash and trim mine and then keep them in a bowl in the fridge for fast munching. Consider adding them to a crudite platter with hummus for dipping. Or mix diced pieces into fresh salsa for a bit of crunch.

I typically slice them thinly and add them to a salad, but they can be braised, glazed, sautéed and even pickled. One thing I didn’t know until recently — you can eat radish leaves raw in salads or cooked up like spinach. They also add flavor and texture to a veggie soup. Now I can enjoy the whole plant!

Shopping Tip
Buy firm radishes with bright green attached leaves. To store, discard leaves and place radishes in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

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Comments (12)

  1. Barb says:

    I have high cholestrol, high triglycerides, low calcium and low potassium. I do not tolerate vitamins. I need to know what I can eat and some recipes.

  2. Toby Amidor says:

    Hi Barb,
    The best thing to do is see a registered dietitian. You can find one in your area by going to http://www.eatright.org and clicking on “Find a Nutritional Professional.”

  3. Judith Poppleton says:

    I’ve always loved radishes myself also picking them from the garden and munching. My mother always put them in her potato salad and it provided not only a little extra color but a yummy flavor just like scallions. Try them with your veggie trays also they are yummy to dip. Good choice.

  4. Joan says:

    Since I was a kid I have loved radish sandwiches! Butter a slice of bread and cover with a layer of sliced radishes. Lightly salt and enjoy. It takes the “heat” out of the radishes.

  5. Carolyn says:

    My friend from India enjoys the radish leaves more than the radish itself. Cooked and eaten on flat bread with other vegetables.

  6. Cynthia Norton says:

    I have been buying organic radishes, halving or quartering, tossing with olive oil (or garlic oil or even wasabi oil — ymmmm!) and a little sea salt and roasting at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 min, depending on the size of the radish. Outstanding! I also saute the leaves with other greens (mustard, spinach, kale, etc.) with a little olive oil, chopped fresh garlic and onion, and splash with balsamic vinegar. Also really good. The leaves of the organic radishes seem to be fresher and less slimey than regular radishes.

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