Eat Local! Radishes
March 30, 2017
With spring officially upon us, it’s almost time to begin planting our cool weather crops, which include radishes. Radishes can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked – typically within the first two weeks of April in North Idaho. These little peppery root vegetables harbor a great source of nutrients, including immune-boosting vitamin C, cancer-fighting folate, and potassium for regulating blood pressure and metabolism. Radishes are also loaded with antioxidants called glucosinolates, which give them their distinctly pungent and somewhat bitter flavor. Glucosinolates are found in all members of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes radishes along with kale, spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and broccoli. Glucosinolates are important for helping your cells detox and fueling longevity.
Radishes can be found in several different forms. Red radishes (also known as European radishes) are the most commonly grown varietal locally. Daikon, or white radishes, originated from Asia and their greens and seeds are often used in Indian and Asian dishes. Black, or Spanish radishes, are also rich in antioxidants. Radishes typically grow quickly and are hearty cool season crops, making them a great starter vegetable for a first time gardener.
Radishes will store for a week, but their greens should be consumed within 2-3 days. Radishes can be chopped and added to salads, sautéed with greens, or roasted with garlic and olive oil for a savory side dish. Radish seeds can also be used to grow microgreens (to learn more about microgreens, click here). When purchasing radishes, help prevent food waste by eating the radish greens. Although they are often tossed in the trash, radish greens are edible and offer a flavorful accompaniment to salads, as a garnish, or sautéed with other greens such as collards or kale.
Tired of eating plain radishes? Try following simple and “springy” radish recipes from Martha Stewart Living magazine:
Mango and Radish Salad (May 2009 issue):
1 mango, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes (about 8), halved or quartered
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Directions: Whisk lime, salt, olive oil and honey together. Drizzle over radishes, cucumbers and mango and toss to coat.
Radish butter on toasted baguette (April 2002 issue):
8 medium radishes (about 1 bunch), cleaned, root ends trimmed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
One 8-ounce baguette
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grate radishes on the large holes of a box grater; place on paper towels, and squeeze out excess liquid. Combine radishes and butter in a small bowl; mix well.
Slice baguette in half lengthwise, and place in oven; toast until crisp and browned. Remove from oven, and cool slightly. Spread radish mixture on toasted baguette; season with salt and pepper. Slice each half into four pieces, and serve.
Article by Natalie Colla, CDE, RDN, LDN. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Idaho Dietetics Program and registered dietitian specializing in diabetes education.