Star Ingredient of the Season: Radishes
This local crop grows well during the warm Texas spring—but grow them too late, when it's too warm, and they will turn bitter. They can also be grown during the fall and will survive a very light frost.
Crunchy and peppery, radishes are a root in the brassica family and a cousin to cabbage. They come in different shapes, colors and sizes. The ones we know best here in Houston are red, rounded and ping-pong-ball-sized. White daikons are another variety, and radishes also come in dark gray, pink, yellow, purple and green with white. Originally they were black.
The History of Radishes
Egyptians cultivated this vegetable before they even built the pyramids. They are mentioned in ancient Chinese texts dating as far back as 2700 BC. Ancient Romans and Greeks used to eat them with vinegar and honey. By the 16th century, radishes were popular in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Germany. They were used medicinally in the UK around this time for bad skin, intestinal worms and kidney stones.
How to Choose and Store Them
Don't choose overly large radishes because they might be pithy or hollow. Before storing them in the refrigerator, remove the greens from the top and put them in plastic baggies with a paper towel at the bottom to soak up excess moisture. They will stay fresh for up to a week.
How to Prepare and Cook Radishes
Radishes are a worthy addition to salads and sandwiches, and can be served whole, sliced or chopped. The greens and roots can be used in cooking. Try them with spinach or kale. Not only do they offer a tasty, peppery crunch in every bite, but they are also very good for you. This vegetable is an excellent candidate for pickling, or you could serve them as an appetizer in French style, with salted butter or anchovy butter on the side.
Radishes may be sliced and added to tacos or julienned and added to risotto. Try roasting them briefly to bring out the sweetness and mellow their peppery taste. Throwing a steak on the grill? Add a few radishes too. They go really well together. Radishes provide plenty of Vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium and riboflavin, as well as some Vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, calcium and manganese.
In a Starring Role at: Loving Hut
This Westchase vegan restaurant boasts a huge array of colorful, appetizing food. Even if you aren't vegan or vegetarian, it's always nice to try something new, and you will be spoiled for choice at Loving Hut. If you want to enjoy the seasonal appeal of radishes, try the BBQ rolls, which are homemade rice paper wraps filled with soy protein, vermicelli, roasted peanuts, a carrot-and-radish pickle, onion, cilantro and lettuce. These are served with a homemade peanut sauce.
The same carrot-and-radish pickle is served in the BBQ French bread baguette and the BBQ vermicelli, as well as in the Seaweed Ocean, which is a seaweed-wrapped soy protein dish including green onion, cucumber and homemade ginger sauce. Whether you find them cute, cool or cringe-worthy, you will get a kick out of the names of some dishes. The Save-Planet Curry, Blissful Rice, Hot Lovepuccino and Silken Moonlight Noodles are certainly fun to order!
Recipe: Garlicky Radish Dip
This creamy mixture is great served with baguette slices or crackers. The recipe makes about 10 servings, so you can halve it if you need to. Add a pinch of dried dill if you have some to hand. You can make this dip a few hours ahead.
- 6 fresh radishes, quartered
- 1 pound cream cheese, softened
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt, to taste
Pulse the garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add the radishes and mince them, too. Add the cream cheese and a pinch of salt, and mix until blended. Chill the dip until ready to serve.
Stay tuned every week to learn more about what's fresh and exciting at the market and discover where you can enjoy the flavorful bounty of the season.