Radishes Are Multi-Purpose Vegetables

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Click To Enlarge Photo: Boyd Hagen

by Cynthia Hizer
April 1997
from issue #8

Most people eat only radish roots, but just about every part of the plant is flavorful and enjoyable. You can sprout radish seeds in a jar in the kitchen, just as you would alfalfa, and savor their mustardy pungency on sandwiches. Cook tender leaves just like mustard or turnip greens. Pick them young, before they develop hairs. Finally, the spicy seed pods are great for munching raw on an updated crudité platter or added to a quick stir-fry.

Of course, it’s still the root that shines. I add sliced or julienned radishes to composed salads and slaws. Minced or puréed, they’re good in dips. Radishes’ crisp, watery texture makes them a good substitute for jicama or water chestnuts. And as I learned at the governor’s mansion, they’re great with buttered bread and a sprinkling of salt.

Winter radishes are sturdy enough to be sliced or grated, then steamed or simmered in soups, much like carrots. When cooked, the flesh turns soft and translucent.

I like to pair radishes with other cool-season herbs and vegetables, like dill, chives, arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, green onions, and carrots. Citrus fruit or juice is also a good companion, counteracting the radishes' pungency.

Pull and eat spring radishes as soon as they're ready. Winter varieties will keep for months, unwashed and in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

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