Radishes don’t thrive in warm weather, so most disappear from the market during the hot summer months and return with the cooler fall conditions. Radishes are delicious and rarely get their due on the dinner table. All too often we treat them simply as a crunchy garnish, served as an appetizer to the real food to come. But cooked radishes are radically different from raw radishes. Whether lightly steamed, roasted or sautéed, their color and flavor mellows. Losing their spicy bite, they take on a sweetness that is reminiscent of baby turnips. Once you’ve enjoyed cooked radishes you will never again be able to relegate them solely to the appetizer course. Radishes can also be sautéed, roasted or braised lending a light pink color and sweetness to many dishes. And don’t toss out those greens! Radish tops can be tossed into salads or lightly sautéed like dandelion greens or stirred into soups or pasta.
Your local farmer may grow a few different varieties of radishes. The most common is round with a deep red exterior, but radishes can be round or oblong, red, purple or white. Once you have purchased a bunch, take them home and separate the tops from the radishes themselves. Rinse in cold water to remove the soil then store the greens as you would lettuce: wrapped in paper towels and a plastic bag. The radishes bulbs will keep best in a humid environment, so once you have rinsed the dirt off, pack them in a plastic or glass container with a tight fitting lid – stored properly they will remain bright and crispy for a full week.
As members of the cruciferous family of vegetables; radishes help our bodies fight cancer and aging. Along with anti-oxidants, radishes provide a surprising amount of Vitamin C. They are low in fat and calories, and contain small amounts of fiber, iron and even calcium.