Food Friday: An Ode to Radishes

16 07 2010

Poor radishes. Poor, forgotten radishes. They certainly aren’t the most glamourous of the vegetables. But I do love them so. They have a tangy, fresh, crisp taste that’s like no other. They are so versatile — from salads to pizzas to casseroles — they go just nicely in anything! The come in cute little round balls, or long finger-like shapes. Their color is bright and cheery. With spring, summer, and winter varieties, they’re available almost all year around. Low in calories and high in vitamins, what’s not to love?

Perhaps the only downside to radishes is that most of us tend to get a little uninspired when we think of the radish as simply a salad addition. I guess not everyone loves radishes enough to write them a sonnet. Sure they’re delicious on salads or raw with dip, but how about warmed, sauteed with just a little butter, sugar and salt?

Or I love nothing more than Mamaw’s veggie pizza — cream cheese, broccoli, shredded carrots, chives, and radish slices. Are you a chip lover? Slice them up thin-as-you-please, then bake in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour or more, with just a little drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Even their sprouts can sometimes be found in specialty produce stores and be used to pep up any dish (think potatoes, eggs, pastas). If you’re entertaining, or feeling fancy, they make a gorgeous garnish (just cut the peel vertically from the tip to the end and soak in ice water to open for beautiful radish roses).

Image from Epicurious

Let’s learn just a few practical tips about these inexpensive and versatile veggie:

  • Choose radishes that are firm. If you give a little squeeze, it shouldn’t give, lest you get your hands on a mealy, instead of crisp radish. (If there are leaves attached, they should be crisp and green.)
  • Store your radishes in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to one week. Remove the leaves before storing.
  • Wash and trim the ends just before using.
  • To make your radishes extra-crispy, cover with ice water and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.
  • If you prefer a milder radish, most of the tang is in the skin, so peel them to reduce the bite.
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