If you’ve always considered the humble radish as a garnish, an afterthought or a minor player in salads, these radish recipes may surprise you. Late winter to spring is the best time for this vegetable. Here are a few things to do with those radishes you might find in your yard, your community supported agriculture box or product section at the grocery store. But first, a few radish fun facts.
This undervalued root vegetable was a common crop in ancient Egypt, and probably originated in the eastern Mediterranean, China and Middle Asia. Ancient Greeks prized the vegetable, making small gold radish replicas. Radishes were one of the first crops that Spaniards tried out in the New World. They took to the soil, too — probably not surprisingly, as the vegetable’s name derived from rephanos, a Greek word meaning “easily reared.”
Radish roots are pink because of a pigment called anthocyanin. Their spicy flavor comes from the volatile alkaloid isothiocyanate. Radishes are full of antioxidants, such as pyrogallol, catechin and vanillic acid. These vegetables have practically no calories — only 15 in a 3-ounce serving, but they contain 30% of your vitamin C RDA and 20% of the RDA for calcium. Just think, one 15-ounce radish smoothie, and you have enough calcium to go on for a day. Joking! Don’t worry, these recipes are going to be better than a radish smoothie.
How to cook radish greens
“Don’t toss those radish tops!” said Kristina Todini, a registered dietitian and author of the Fork in the Road website. Instead, Todini promotes curbing food waste by sautéing radish greens for a wilted greens side dish. This is what she calls “Root to stem cooking at its finest.” Plus, you’ll get a good dose of vitamins K, A and C.
While the stems are technically edible, most people find them unpleasantly tough. So cut at the end of the stems where the softer leaves begin. Because radishes grow in the dirt, the greens will need an extra-thorough wash to get the grit off. The soft leaves will cook quickly and reduce to about one-third of their original size. Add garlic, pepper and olive oil, and radish greens will taste similar to chard or other more familiar greens.
Star chef Grant Achatz shared his recipe for honey mustard braised radishes and mustard greens with Food and Wine. Between the horseradish, Dijon mustard and the greens themselves, this one will be a spicy hit for mustard lovers. Of course, the entire stick of butter also enhances the taste and renders that above clause about 15-calorie radishes null and void. Vegans can substitute Earth Balance or similar in this recipe.
Roasted radishes are extremely versatile. This recipe from Real and Vibrant tosses oven-roasted radishes with garlic, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Roasted radishes make a good side dish at lunch or dinner. In salads, they pair well with balsamic vinaigrette or lemon tahini. Slice some up and serve on homemade bread for the best radish sandwich ever.
Radishes complement pasta
This recipe for roasted radish lemony chickpea pasta is both gluten-free and vegan and comes from Cotter Crunch, the website of nutrition specialist Lindsay Cotter. If you’re not gluten-sensitive, you could substitute any old pasta. Olives add extra flavor, but the lemony herb sauce is probably the best part of this roasted radish recipe. The sauce combines garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, onion and spices like sage or tarragon. This is a perfect light meal for summer or springtime.
Sure, you can use cucumbers to make pickles. But a jar of pickled radishes makes a more original snack or gift. If you go for a pickled watermelon radish recipe, you’ll have the prettiest pickles ever. A Beautiful Mess gives easy instructions for making quick-pickled radishes at home. All you need is water, white vinegar, salt, sugar and a jar to put them in. Oh, and your radishes, of course. You can make these pickles overnight and they’ll last for up to a month. Make them extra fancy with some whole pink peppercorns or sprigs of dill.
Snack on sweet radish chips
Pinch of Yum describes its recipe for cinnamon sugar radish chips as spicy, earthy, warm, a little bitter but still sweet at the same time. Intrigued? This recipe takes less than an hour from slicing the radishes to putting the finished product in your mouth, so give it a try. You’ll need olive oil, honey, cinnamon sugar and radishes. Vegans could try subbing agave syrup or molasses for the honey. You just bathe sliced radishes in this mixture and bake them on a cookie sheet.
Radishes for dessert
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more unexpected, Veggie Desserts has a recipe for vegan cinnamon ice cream topped with radishes. True, if you’re used to eating delicious ice cream with mix-ins like peanut butter cups and Oreos, this healthy dessert recipe might be a hard sell. But don’t knock it until you try it. The ice cream is made from three frozen bananas and a teaspoon of cinnamon. The topping requires five radishes, a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of maple syrup.
Images via Adobe Stock