I think we all know the formula by now: Radish + salt = elegant aperitif. Radish + butter + baguette = snack nirvana. Radish + rustic farmhouse table + screen-printed textiles = a food photographer’s dream.
But what if you’re on your 100th bunch of radishes of the summer and those peppery gems need to play a bigger role? More than a little something to help us out between meals, more than just a side dish? What if a bunch of radishes alone were to be the vegetable tonight?
CSA subscribers, prolific gardeners and market enthusiasts know this problem all too well. Sure, radishes, butter, and salt are made for each other, but by midsummer, even the most striking ombre roots begin to lose their shine.
When this happens, it may be time to reconsider the formula. While we usually eat radishes raw, they can be cooked, and when cooked, they transform. When roasted in the oven over high heat, radishes, like many root vegetables, caramelize and take on those concentrated winter flavors.
Roasted radishes are delicious, but this time of year a good option is pan-braising, which mellows the spiciness of the radish and changes its texture, making it tender and moist, almost like a beetroot. This Deborah Madison recipe, while perhaps more convenient than other radish recipes, only takes a few minutes to prepare and keeps the flavors simple: shallots, butter, water, herbs. The beauty of this preparation is also that the greens steam together with the radishes at the very end, making the dish more substantial – a side that will comfortably feed four.
If the onslaught of radishes is already getting to you, it might be time to give your mandolin a rest. Your stove is eager to enter the equation.
How to store and prepare radishes
As soon as you get home, remove the rubber bands or ties and cut the leaves off the radishes using scissors or a sharp knife. Store greens and radishes in bags or tea towels, loosely wrapped in the refrigerator. Soak greens and radishes in a large bowl of cold water before serving – both tend to get dirty. Dry the radishes well before serving; greens can be a little moist before steaming or sautéing. Greens that have turned yellow should be discarded; greens that look tired can be revived in a bowl of cold water – after 20-30 minutes the greens should straighten out; if they don’t, they’re probably beyond repair.
How to cook your radishes
Radishes are most often served raw, halved and sprinkled with salt, shaved in salads, layered on buttered chopsticks, or shredded in coleslaw. They can also be marinated with olive oil and lemon and mint for a refreshing salad, and they can be marinated with a classic vinegar-sugar-salt mixture. Finely diced radishes tossed with red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime make a peppery and crunchy salsa, a great addition to any taco. Radishes can also be roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 450ºF for 15-20 minutes or until caramelized and tender. Plus, they can be sautéed and pureed with any number of vegetables (parsnips, potatoes, turnips, etc.) for a light vegetable side dish. This puree can also be diluted in a soup with chicken or vegetable broth. Greens: Discard yellowish greens before cooking. Greens can be quickly steamed or sautéed and seasoned with olive oil or butter, a squeeze of lemon or a little vinegar, chopped shallots and a number of herbs.
Our favorite radish recipes
Garlic and Caraway Roasted Radish
Obviously, we won’t get very far without talking about our favorite roasted radish recipe. This one enhances their earthy flavor with garlic and caraway seeds; the longer the roast, the softer and sweeter the taste of the radishes. Even radish skeptics will fall in love.
Nice radish and broccoli salad
Think beyond the usual cabbage to make the perfect spring coleslaw with burgers, grilled meat, or your Easter ham. This recipe uses the broccoli stalks you might have otherwise thrown away, along with dried cherries, chopped pistachios, and watermelon radishes. If this coleslaw isn’t singing the praises of spring, I don’t know what is.
Tartine with radishes and butter
The absolute fanciest tartine for spring, this one is made very simply by buttering a slice of toast (use your favorite bread and the best butter you can find), then topping it with very thinly sliced radishes and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Breakfast, lunch and spring snack, perfected.
Radish Top Aioli
When you really want to celebrate the simplicity of radishes, while enjoying every bit, make this aioli. Chopped radish leaves are mixed with the usual eggs, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic and oil. It’s the ultimate dip for, what else, radishes!
Radish salad with curry and orange vinaigrette
Not to honk, but we think the idea of reducing orange juice until it’s thick and syrupy is a great way to make an absolutely delicious dressing, especially when served with radish, feta cheese and mint.
Pizza Cacio e Pepe with Roasted Radish
Discard, pepperoni. We dress this simple cheese and peppercorn pizza with the shining star of spring: radishes. Our readers voted this favorite recipe made with radishes and turnips. Enough said.