These pinkish globes and their green leaves bring liveliness to our kitchens, don’t you agree? When I see small bright bunches in a market or a shop, my mind automatically conjures the image of a big bowl of salad, topped with crunchy radish wedges, so fresh and peppery! Or even better: radishes dipped in salt and eaten with buttered bread or dipped in sour cream. What a great appetizer!
Yes, usually we think of radishes as something to be eaten raw, as an appetizer or part of a salad. Like a lot of produce, radishes are at their best when eaten straight after you’ve bought them from a market. The fresher the better- and sadly, radishes from grocery shops have often been there a little longer than they should be, so they lose their crispiness very quickly.
radishes with sour cream
The problem is that delicate spring radishes like the French Breakfast variety aren’t often seen here in Malta. On that note… do French people actually eat radishes for breakfast? At a farmer’s market, you can usually see other radish varieties, which are often much bigger and tend to be much more pungent than their delicate relatives.
Here’s a good news: these radishes are great for cooking! Honestly, I only found out how great radishes can be in a cooked dish a couple of years ago- and I was pretty surprised. I knew, of course, about pickles but it had never occurred to me to try and roast, braise, boil or sauté this vegetable. So from experience, let me assure you, it tastes fantastic even when cooked.
Wait, there’s even more good news: radish leaves are edible too! Tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads, just like rucola. Mature leaves are a great addition to vegetable stews, or can be cooked on their own, like spinach.
Choosing and storing radishes:
- Choose radishes which feel heavy for their size. The ones which feel light will most likely be spongy inside.
- Peel radishes if they have skin, as it can be too hard and woody. Peeling will help to make overly pungent radishes more palatable.
- To store radishes, remove their leaves first, since they are prone to spoiling very quickly.
Radishes go very well with:
- Butter and salt
- Sweetish white wine vinegar (I like to use white balsamic or poppy seeds vinegar)
- Fresh thyme; poppy seeds
Radish salad with honey dressing
- 3-4 pungent radishes (like Watermelon, Black Spanish)
- Small bunch of delicate tasting radishes (like French Breakfast)
- Dark coloured salad leaves, washed and dried
- 2 hard boiled eggs (optional)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or other white vinegar with sweet flavor) + some more for drizzling
- 1 tsp runny honey
- 1-2 tsp poppy seeds
- Dried barberries (optional)
- Peel pungent radishes if you wish. Using a mandoline or really sharp knife slice radishes as thin as possible. Drizzle with some vinegar and set aside while preparing dressing.
- Mix all ingredients for dressing and stir well until combined.
- Arrange salad leaves on a plates. Drain radishes and put them in a bowl with dressing, mix well.
- Arrange on the top of the leaves and sprinkle with microgreens and chopped egg.
I’ll admit, this one was an absolute improvisation. I was lucky to have a huge bunch of various radishes. First, I enjoyed delicate ones just dipped in sour cream. Then, a thought occurred to me: I also had a bunch of broccolini and they would certainly make a nice couple. That’s how this recipe was born:
Light spring stew of radishes and their leaves, with spring garlic and broccolini
- Olive oil
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- ½ head of spring garlic, divided into cloves
- A bunch of broccolini
- 3-4 big radishes (Black Spanish, Watermelon)
- A handful of spring radishes and their leaves
- Lemon, cut into wedges
- Pecorino to serve
- Wash vegetables very well. Cut small delicate radishes into halves. Peel big radishes and cut them into wedges.
- Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan. Add onions and garlic, and stir until almost translucent, season with salt.
- Add broccolini and big radishes, stir to coat in oil and add some water until the vegetables are about half submerged. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes- it should be no longer than 5.
- Now, add small radishes and their leaves and cook for a couple of minutes more until the greens are just wilted.
- Squeeze some lemon juice and check the seasoning.
- Shave some pecorino on top.
- Enjoy while warm!
- A bunch of small radishes, leaves removed
- ½ head of spring garlic, divided into cloves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
- Salt flakes
- Wash radishes, dry them and cut in a half.
- Heat olive oil in a shallow frying pan over a medium heat.
- Put the radishes into the pan, cut side down (to get nice golden colour)
- Cook for 10-12 minutes
- Drizzle with vinegar, stir.
- Sprinkle with salt and enjoy!
Next time you know what to do with your radishes!