February 21, 2019
Radishes: Versatile and Distinctly Flavored

Radishes: Versatile and Distinctly Flavored

by Berkeley Wellness

Radishes are root vegetables that resemble beets or turnips in appearance and texture. But their flavor is distinctive, ranging from the relatively mild flavor of the familiar red globe radish to the sharp bite of the turnip-shaped black radish.

Like their relatives broccoli, cabbage, and kale, radishes are cruciferous vegetables. They were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece, where the vegetable was so highly regarded that gold replicas were made of it.

In the United States, radishes are usually eaten raw. However, they can be added to cooked dishes such as soups, heated or sautéed and served as a vegetable, or pickled. As with many other root vegetables, their green tops are edible and lend a peppery taste to salads.

Radishes: nutrition

A good low-calorie snack, radishes contain fewer than 25 calories per cup, and supply potassium and impressive amounts of vitamin C: 29 percent of the daily requirement in 1 cup of red radish slices.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Radishes in the National Nutrient Database.

Types of Radishes

Take a culinary adventure beyond the common, small red radish with these many other types of radishes.

How to choose the best radishes

Although red globe radishes can grow to as big as 5 inches in diameter, the best-tasting ones are closer to the size of a ping-pong ball—about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Radishes with their leaves intact are usually tied in bunches, while topped radishes are sold in plastic bags. If the leaves are attached, they should be crisp and green.

For all radishes, look for well-shaped roots that are heavy for their size. Lightweight radishes may be spongy inside. If they are colored radishes, their color should be deep. The roots should be hard and solid, with a smooth, unblemished surface. Check bagged radishes to make sure they are free of mold. Long white radishes, such as daikon, should have a glossy, almost translucent, sheen.

How to store radishes

If you’ve bought radishes with their leaves attached, remove the tops unless you’ll be serving them the same day (leaf-topped radishes are handsome on a crudité platter). Radishes will not keep as well with their tops left on.

Place radishes in plastic bags if they are not already packaged. Both red radishes and daikons will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Black radishes can be stored for months if they remain dry. Store them in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator.

Radishes: recipe ideas and cooking tips

Small radishes can be served whole, raw, or cooked. Larger and sharper radishes are usually cut up or grated.

First, scrub the radishes and trim off the stem end and tip. Unless you object to the skin, don’t bother to peel it.

Daikons have a very thin skin that can be removed with a vegetable peeler, if you wish. Black radishes should be well scrubbed. Whether you peel them or not depends on the thickness of the skin. If it is thin, leave it on as the dark color provides a striking contrast with the white flesh.

8 recipe ideas for radishes:

  1. Halve small red radishes and sauté with garlic and olive oil.
  2. Shred daikon and toss with carrots and apple for a slaw.
  3. Add sliced or shredded radishes to potato salads.
  4. Stir finely chopped radish into plain low-fat yogurt and use as a sauce for fish.
  5. Garnish cold soups with sliced radishes.
  6. Toss sliced radishes in a lemony vinaigrette.
  7. Add radishes to stir-fries.
  8. Serve raw radishes with a soy-ginger dipping sauce.
Also see Crucifers: Veggie Superstars.
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