Varieties in Winter Veggies: Radishes
Black radishes? You’ll find all kinds of colors and shapes of these South Florida favorites at farmers markets, in CSA boxes and backyard gardens this season.
They can be as colorful as a bundle of balloons, as pale as frost white icicles, as fat as plump carrots, or dark as black dirt. Radishes - which include the familiar round red variety, colorful finger-shaped cultivars and Asian winter varieties like daikon - are peppery root vegetables of the Brassicaceae family. Their flavors vary widely from mild to hot. Florida is a leading producer of radishes and they’re an easy backyard crop because they grow quickly. Plant every week or so to make sure you have a steady supply throughout the season.
Radishes deserve better than serving as piquant garnishes for salads. Chef Michael Schwartz had the right idea serving fresh, peppery radishes as bar food at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink - a perfect radish needs no more than a quick flick of the salt shaker. Turn those radishes into a simple lunch by slicing them thinly and layering them atop a slice of baguette or ciabatta slathered generously with top-quality unsalted butter.
serves 4 as a side dish
Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm recommends this technique of gently crushing radishes to allow them to be permeated by the Asian dressing.
- 8 oz. medium red radishes, washed and trimmed (about 20-25)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Microgreens or finely snipped chives Lay each radish on its side, then pound once or twice with the side of a cleaver to split open. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds by heating in a dry skillet over medium heat 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool. Combine dressing ingredients.
Drain radishes. Toss gently with dressing and sesame seeds. Chill briefly before serving. Top each serving with microgreens or snipped chives.
If you have fresh-from-the-garden or farm greens, don’t toss them out. Use peppery, tender smooth leaves raw in salads. Cook “hairy” leaves in olive oil and garlic. With larger, tougher leaves, make pesto: Remove stems and combine with pine nuts or sunflower seeds, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add grated Parmesan and toss with pasta; use on sandwiches; and add to fish and soups.
Versatile white daikon radishes are used in fermented kimchi, grated in Vietnamese dishes like banh mi sandwiches, mashed into cakes or roasted. Here, they're added to garden ingredients to make a tangy Asian slaw.
- 1 medium daikon, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 cup red radishes, trimmed, cut in thin slices
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 small green pepper, finely sliced
- 1 scallion, minced
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 small chile pepper, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon nam pla
- (Vietnamese fish sauce)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine daikon, radishes, cucumber, carrot, green pepper, scallion, rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together cilantro, lime juice, chile, fish sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Drain slaw and combine with dressing.