Extend this spring veggies culinary range
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Roast, pickle, slice, and blend radishes in these unique spring recipes.
Local gastronomes know that radishes are among the first grown-close-to-home vegetables to appear in the spring. A big reason why the orbs are such early and consistent items at markets is that they’re famous for being one of the easiest items to grow.
Yet, radishes are arguably among the most undervalued veggies around, often relegated to simple salads—a culinary oversight that fails to take advantage of their tempered peppery heat and wonderful texture that can vivify a wide range of dishes.
These harbingers of warmer days ahead are even more appetizing when you consider that they are very low in calories and abundant in vitamin C. Higher intakes of vitamin C have been linked to improved blood pressure numbers. The following recipes offer a celebration of the peppery bulbs and give them their day in the sun.
Spicy green radish tops, often fodder for the compost pile, are a surefire way to gussy up salads, pestos, soups, and sandwiches. Like other leafy greens, radish greens are bursting with a range of nutrients. This makes radishes one of the great two-for-one vegetables.
Once home, chop off the greens—they’ll pull moisture from the roots. Store in a produce bag in the refrigerator, and use within three days. The bulbs are best kept in the fridge in a bowl covered in a damp paper towel. If they become spongy, revive them in a bowl of ice water for 1 hour or until the roots become crisp again.
Rooting for radishes
These days, the rough hewn tables at farmers’ markets are being covered by a variety of radish types. Look out for any one of these heirloom beauties.
This ancient radish variety has a black, coarse skin and icicle-white flesh that possesses a fierce lick of horseradish flavour. Roasting will humble its pungent flavour, or try adding shredded black radish to slaws for a little spicy kick.
French breakfast radish
This elongated radish has a half red, half white exterior and is lauded for a sweet flavour and succulent crunch. Its shape makes it great for dipping, or slice it in half lengthwise and add to stir-fries. Slices are also wonderful served on toast with avocado.
Purple plum radish
Deep purple on the outside and snow white on the inside, this almost juicy and fairly mild globe-shaped radish can add flair to salads, burgers, and salsas.
This large white radish with a striking pink interior is praised for its crisp and refreshing flesh. It’s a bit milder and sweeter than regular radishes. Cooking causes a loss of colour, so try serving watermelon radish raw in salads or as part of a veggie platter.