There's a vegetable out there that is sadly neglected and as far as Al is concerned, it's an undeserved fate. The poor little radish isn't feeling much love these days, which is a shame, because it is a very tasty little veg.
If variety is your thing, it's hard to top the radish. There are literally hundreds of recognized varieties growing all around the world. Radishes grow in all four seasons, and are super easy to cultivate, making them a favorite for the backyard gardener.
The flavor of the radish ranges from pungent peppery to mild and subtle to almost sweet. They also come in colors ranging from pinks and reds to dark purple, black and green.
One popular radish we see here in Maryland is the Watermelon radish, complete with green skin and pink flesh.
Cherry Bell is a very recognizable variety, being the one we are mostly likely to see in the store.
French Breakfast is a crowd pleasing radish: long, with a white tip and a mild intriguing flavor. Slice it thin and serve it on buttered bread.
White Icicle is a long pale carrot shaped radish with a tender texture.
The aptly named Fire and Ice, a long radish half red and half white, is one of the more sweet tasting varieties.
The very large Korean Daikon is actually a radish with a mild, distinctive flavor. Try this: julienne cut a big piece of daikon and toss it with home-made mayonnaise and pepper. A great side dish.
And the Black Spanish with its dark skin and pure white flesh is about as dramatic as they get. Add them to a salad for a striking visual.
Folks who enjoy radishes will just eat them raw, like a tiny apple. But we can offer a few other ideas.
Dip a radish in butter, then salt. This is the absolute simplest idea, but it really shows off the flavor. And don't be shy about having a cool glass of beer on the side.
Radishes are great for pickling. Depending on your pickling liquid, you can combine the peppery flavor of the radish with sweet, sour and pungent notes.
If you're whipping up a batch of risotto, toss in some julienned radishes and let them warm up with the rice.
Radishes do very well in the oven. Cut them in half, mix them up with Brussels sprouts and olive oil and give them a quick blast in a hot oven. The heat mellows the flavor of the radish, but keeps its earthiness.
Slice them paper thin with a mandolin, and include them it a veggie taco.
The radish takes a spicy sauce exceptionally well.
And finally, consider making a chilled buttermilk and radish soup. This is prepared in a blender, along with some cucumber and tangy rice vinegar.
Here's a couple recipes for radishes.
Fast Pickled Radishes
1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1 pound, 400g of radishes), sliced very thin
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
1 bay leaf several sprigs of tarragon and dill
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
optional: 1 chile pepper, split lengthwise
1. Slice the radishes into rounds.
2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chile pepper and herbs, if using.
3. Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chile into the jar as well.
4. Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Roasted Radishes and Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 lb. radishes, trimmed and halved
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.
3. Spread everything out on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, all in a single layer.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the sprouts start to brown and crisp around the edges. Serve immediately