For whatever reason, radishes were never featured heavily on my dinner table as a child, and up until recently, they rarely made it there in my adult life either. They were just kind of pushed aside, a non-entity really. They didn’t offend; they were pleasant enough if they happened to pop up in something, but they weren’t really a staple in the bag of veggies brought home from the market. There were just other, perhaps more versatile things, that I wanted room for instead.
In recent times, that’s all changed. For one, something about the spice of radish has come to really sit right on my tongue. Not just that, but I’ve also begun growing veggies a lot and find that they are amongst the easiest and quickest to grow with edible greens to make them doubly worthwhile. The pickling craze has reminded me of having them in Korea as a pickled side for nearly every meal. Also, the migration to eat more raw food whenever possible has brought them into my diet a little more.
Suffice it to say, my view of radishes has shifted radically. They are now something that I’m excited about having, something I want, even crave at times. And, surprise, surprise — like most vegetables, there are solid reasons why these high-quality gems are beneficial to my health.
Here’s a bit of user’s guide on how to put more radishes in your daily diet.
Veggie Chips and Dips
Lots of raw veggies make great crunchy “chips” for protein-rich dips like hummus and black-bean salsa. Stack rounds of cucumbers, radishes, and carrots next to a fresh dip, and you’ve got an irresistible sensation. It makes for an easy lunch or even a colorful side dish for dinner. Plus, this version of chips and dips is way healthier than traditional chip and dip, and it works just the same for mindless snacking during a ball game or chat with friends.
The Wow Factor in Salad
Most of the time we see a few measly, slender slices of radish — if we see it at all — in our garden salads, but radishes make for a fantastic addition we should eat more often. They’ve got a welcomed spice to add to the mix, a vibrant color to add to the rainbow of veggies, and they have their own unique set of nutritional benefits to bring to the table. Definitely don’t forget to throw them into potato salads as well, where the crunch can be much appreciated.
Join the Pickle Brigade
Making pickles at home seems to be a popular new pastime, and why shouldn’t it be? Pickles are a zingy delight to the palette, something to dazzle friends with, and super easy to do. Radishes, being crunchy and strong, also make for good pickling subjects. They work well on the sides of sandwiches, rice dishes or just as a little salad in and of themselves.
Celebrate the Diversity
It would be a rookie mistake to miss out or not explore the many different radish options. They come in great variety, from big suckers like the daikon radish to tiny little ruby red golf balls that come out of the patio pot garden, all the way to the beautifully colored watermelon radishes that burst with a rainbow of colors on the inside. They are fairly similar in texture, but each comes with its own unique set of possibilities. You can use all different types of radishes anywhere you would use other crunchy veggies of similar shape, such as cucumbers, zucchini, etc. Daikon is also said to be high in vitamins and minerals, and is a great replacement to carrots for a chance to try something new. Most all radishes contain unique flavors, even though all are mostly crunchy, mild, and contain a slighly bitter bite. Be sure you season them well or marinate them so their flavors develop the best. You can also try roasting them to add a caramelized flavor and to breakdown the crunchy texture.
Use the Greens As Well
Sarah and Jason/Flickr
Greens are goodness, and that’s why moms always want us to eat more of them. Well, that doesn’t just go for spinach, kale and romaine; the greens of many root vegetables—beets, radishes, carrots, etc.—are not only edible but also full of nutrients and flavor. They sauté well with a bit of onion and garlic, or they even work in salads or on sandwiches.
Grown Your Own
The main reason radishes made such a blip on my radar was that I recently grew some of my own — an easy task that requires very little space, a pot even — and suddenly their amazingness became readily apparent. From then on, they have been something that appealed to me, something I could happily just snack on raw, right off the cutting board. Plant them in a pot, plant them in the flowerbed, just get a few on the go, a few more the next week, and on it goes. Spring is the best time to grow them.
So, it’s worth feeling inspired, even if getting hyped over a vegetable seems a bit loony. Once you’ve plucked one from your own garden, felt that burst of watery zing and audible texture between your teeth, it just seems to make sense and leave little doubt that radishes are, indeed, radical.
Lead Image Source: Roasted Buddha Bowl