Radishes. Versatile. Flavourful. Colourful. Fast-maturing. Easy to grow. Relishes cool seasons. Varieties include spring, summer and fall. Adds texture and colour to the plate. Can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked, braised. Are hot, sweet, mild, spicy. Lovely names (Cherry Belle, Bunny Tail, French Breakfast, Easter Pink, Snow Belle, White Icicle, Purple Plum, Beauty Heart Watermelon, Spanish Black, April Cross Daikon). Not to be confused with horseradish. They're low calorie, rich in minerals and nutrients.
Truth be told. I'm hooked on radishes!
A Brief History
The origin of radishes varies according to the source being read. They likely originated in China and became part of their diet around 400 BC. During the building of the pyramids in Egypt, radishes were eaten by the builders in order to promote muscle and endurance. Radish seed was also ground for oil long before olive oil arrived on the scene. In ancient Greece the replicas of golden radishes have been found.
Radishes are still celebrated today. The most famous is a unique folk festival that takes place each year on December 23, in Oaxaca, Mexico. There, many folk dress up and giant radishes are carved and taken to the street as part of Noche de Rabanos, or “The Night of the Radishes.”
Health wise... the radish is described as "one hot little power packer". It is a great detoxifier for the blood, an excellent digestive aid because of its roughage and high water content. It is low in calories, has only a few carbs, lots of vitamin C and can even work as a breath freshener. hmmmm.
Websites also describe the mineral content of radishes e.g., ascorbic acid, folic acid and potassium, a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium.
Ravishing Radish Recipes
I have three favourite ways of preparing and eating radishes -- in a salad, pickled, or roasted.
1) Radish and Vegetable Salad (4-6 servings)
1 1/2 cups sliced red and white radishes (e.g., Japanese radish, French breakfast, Black and Pink Lady)
1 cup seeded, sliced cucumber
1 cup diagonally sliced carrot
1/2 tsp salt
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
In medium bowl, combine radishes, cucumber, carrot and salt. Toss to mix and let stand for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Transfer vegetables to colander and press gently to allow liquid to drain off. Return vegetables to bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.
Note: Delicious if just use radishes as well.
2) Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrots (Famous in Vietnamese Banh Mi street sandwiches)
1/2 lb carrots, shredded in food processor, sliced in thin rounds or thin match-like strips. 1/2 lb daikon radish, cut same as carrots. 3 cups warm water 3 T rice vinegar 2-3 T sugar, depending on desired sweetness 2 tsp salt
Mix warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt until everything is dissolved in a pitcher or bowl with a lip to make pouring the mixture easier.
Peel, wash and cut daikon and carrots to desired size. Combine both together in bowl and blot dry with paper towel. Fill carrot and daikon mixture into a tight lid jar, bowl or similar container. They should be cleaned in a hot water or dishwasher beforehand.
Pour liquid salt mixture into carrot and daikon container till full. Close lid and let it pickle for about 3-5 days, or till desired sourness. For immediate use, let marinade for about 1 hour. Lasts 4-6 weeks in refrigerator.
3) Roasted Red Radishes with Thyme (4-6 servings)
1 pint grape tomatoes 1 red onion, cut into eights 1 lb assorted small radishes (2 bunches), trimmed, leaving 1/2 inch stem intact 2 T good quality olive oil 4 sprigs fresh thyme Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the tomatoes, red onion and radishes on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Add thyme, gently stir and season with salt and pepper.
Roast, without stirring, for 25 minutes or until the radishes are soft but still colourful.