Mad For Radishes: Their Cool Crunch Isn't Just for Salads
The spicy snap of a radish is just plain satisfying. Radishes stand out in green salads, of course, but they also do wonders for tacos, tuna salads, soups, sandwiches of all types -- basically, if a dish can benefit from a little healthy crunch, it's ready for radishes.
How to Eat Radishes
Of course, one of the best ways to eat radishes is also the easiest: straight out of hand, seasoned with just a sprinkle of sea salt. Paired with a cold glass of beer, the combo is even tastier.
KN Granger has the right idea. "Radishes are typically forgotten as a snack food in the U.S.," she says, "being relegated to being diced up for salads. I recently went to Mexico, where radishes (and peppers) are served as frequently as french fries are in the U.S., and I think it's a lovely food tradition. So here's to a radish revival!"
Certainly, if you want a low-cal snack, you can't go wrong with radishes. A full cup of sliced radishes nets just 19 calories! For a seriously healthy snack, dip whole radishes in hummus. (See more nutrition stats on radishes below.)
If fresh radishes seem too "hot" for snacking, you can tone down their natural spiciness by roasting radishes in a little olive oil or sautéing radishes or grilling radishes in butter or oil. When you roast, grill, or sauté radishes, the heat turns to sweet. Same goes for steaming radishes. Serve with a simple vinaigrette.
What to Look for When Buying Radishes
There are so many types of radish. They come in a rainbow of colors: purple, red, pink, white, yellow, even black radishes. There are big and small radishes, round and oblong radishes, thin and fat radishes, with flavors ranging from spicy to mild.
Radishes are in the mustard and cabbage family, which makes them cousin to kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and horseradish. Considering their family heritage, it's no surprise they're healthy for us. Radishes contain antioxidants that may have cancer-fighting properties -- and they're good sources of fiber and vitamin C, along with potassium, folate, magnesium, and calcium.
And don't forget to eat the tops! The greens are completely edible -- and offer even more vitamin C than the orbs. Fresh, they spice up salads. Sauté them for a simple side dish, or add them to fresh blender-rendered juices, or make soup! They're tops in potato soup.
"This is an easy recipe that uses an unlikely part of a vegetable we love to eat. It's thick and rich, and so hearty." -- LAURA NASON
You'll find radishes in grocery stores almost year-round. Spring radishes (or European radishes) are cooler-weather varieties. Summer radishes are smaller and typically milder. Red globe radishes are the most common in grocery stores. The daikon radish is a large winter radish. Although first cultivated in China, the daikon is sometimes called the Japanese radish in the United States.
Recipes to Try
"Like an Asian twist on a modified latke recipe, these crispy savory cakes are a unique and tasty way to enjoy daikon radish. If you like spiciness and the bitter taste of radish, you'll love this recipe. If not, give it a try anyway, dipped in ketchup, sour cream, miso mayo, jam, or whatever floats your boat." -- Brett
To keep that crunch, store your fresh radishes in the refrigerator for up to several weeks. Stored at room temperature, they'll last a few days. Pickle your radishes, and they'll stick around in the fridge indefinitely.
"I love the pickled daikon radish and carrot that come alongside Vietnamese rice noodle salads, and realized that it's so easy to make at home! These are not only great in rice noodle salads but also in rice paper rolls." -- moosie
"I'll never forget my first real bánh mì. Not only do we get amazing contrasts in flavor and texture, but also the temperature difference between the crisp, warm, meat-filled roll, and cool, crunchy vegetables makes this so much fun to eat." -- Chef John
Like that? Try this: Asian Roll Lettuce Wrap
You'll also find radishes in Mexican dishes, sometimes as part of the dish, often as a garnish.
"Traditional Mexican Posole is served with shredded cabbage, lime wedges, avocado, sliced radishes, onion, cilantro, and, of course, warm tortillas." -- Jules
Like that? Try this: Andy's Spicy Green Chile Pork
VIDEO: Braised Lamb Chops with Radishes and Mint
Ready for the next level? Here's a Basque-inspired braised lamb shoulder recipe. Those aren't fingerling potatoes; they're radishes! "The radishes cook with the lamb and absorb the other flavors in the dish," says Chef John.
Chef John's recipe for Braised Lamb with Radishes and Mint.
When you plant radishes in your garden, you get a bonus: The same chemical compounds that make radishes taste sharp and spicy are also natural pesticides. They'll keep pests away from other vegetables in the garden. Radishes grow very well alongside lettuces, cucumbers, peas, and chervil. They also grow fast; the smaller varieties are ready to pull and eat after only about a month.
"I was looking for a way to use the radishes from our garden, and this recipe was perfect. I am going to prepare it every time I am invited to a picnic or a potluck." -- PAOLADALEY
Like that? Try this: Summer Radish Salad
Night of the Radishes
Now, if after all this, you truly go mad for radishes, we'll see you down in Oaxaca, Mexico, at the holidays. They grow an oversized radish in Oaxaca specifically for carving. It's all part of a Christmas festival called Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes). Contestants carve spectacular scenes into the large radishes, competing for prizes and -- it almost goes without saying -- glory.
See our collection of Radish Recipes.