The Ravishing, Recuperative Radish
By Chelsea Fisher
Crunchy radishes are part of the widely acclaimed cancer fighting cruciferous family. Packed with phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, these venerable favorites are more than just tasty; they may aid in preventing or slowing the growth of cancer cells, and, as luck would have it, there’s a fresh radish for all seasons. In the spring and summer the common Cherry Bell radish pops up with beautiful pink coloring and a sharp, spicy taste. Summer also brings us oblong, pink tipped breakfast radishes, the hot white radish, and a number of heirloom varieties, like the pretty watermelon radish. In winter, the larger, milder Daikon radish comes into season, the perfect accompaniment to comforting winter meals.
Radishes provide a surprising number of important nutrients — vitamins C and B6,folic acid, fiber, and potassium among others. And don’t forget radish greens. The grocer sometimes tosses them out, but if you can find radishes with their tops put them to good use. They have a mild peppery flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.They’re a nutrition powerhouse, providing all the great nutrition benefits associated with leafy greens.
Fresh Cherry Bell radishes are available from late spring and all summer long, but as the weather gets hotter, so do they. By the dog days of August, the mildly spicy radishes of late spring can become pretty fiery, so beware. When buying radishes, make sure the leaves are crisp and green and the roots are firm and unblemished. If you’re buying pre-packed topped radishes, make sure they are firm and mold free. Daikon roots should be firm and white with a light satiny sheen to the skin, and no bruises or blemishes. Daikon radishes tend to be large, so shop for smaller roots rather than pre-cut pieces.
Radishes are most often used in salads, but with their slight spicy bite and crunchy texture, they are a perfect vegetable for roasting. Try roasted radishes in our Spring Pea Salad and Farro and Roasted Radish Salad. For a truly nutritious dish, try our Simmered Daikon with Chicken—a classic Japanese comfort food that is sure to make you feel better. A good raw treat is our Radish and Miso Salad. For a bit of indulgence, eat them as the French do, with a little cold, unsalted butter then dipped in sea salt. Rad!