Image adapted from Migle, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0

Radishes come into season in April and stay with us through the summer. These crunchy, spicy cruciferous veggies are chock full of vitamin C and health-boosting properties, so whether you’re an expert gardener, a farmers market extraordinaire, or an amateur cook, it’s time to get familiar with them.

Not sure where to start? Here are 7 spring radish recipes for cooking radishes this season.

  1. Pickle them. You can substitute radishes for cucumbers, onions, or virtually any other ingredient in a recipe for homemade pickles. For a quick-pickle dish, mix together ½ cup vinegar of choice, ½ cup sugar, and two heaping pinches salt. Add 1 bunch of washed, sliced radishes, and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
  2. Slaw them. You’ll often find grated radishes in Korean, Japanese, or Mexican salads and condiments, a common ingredient that adds a spicy perkiness (and digestive boost) to heavy or salty entrees. If you’re not used to the robust spice of a raw radish, simply add a few grated veggies to your usual coleslaw recipe. To feature radishes on their own, grate a bunch of them and toss with a splash of citrus juice and olive oil, a few sprigs of chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt and chili powder.
  3. Sandwich them. French cuisine is amazing at perfecting  simple nuances in flavors and textures, without needing to go too big or overstated with any ingredients. One such dish: bread and butter sandwiches. To do it, layer thinly sliced radishes atop a fresh butter-smeared baguette, then finish with a sprinkle of cracked pepper and smattering of fresh parsley or chives. C’est Magnifique!
  4. Stir-fry them. For all of the ways you can enjoy radishes raw, you can also cook them up in a cinch. When added to an Asian stir-fry, radishes add a level of invigorating heat without going too spicy like jalapenos or cayenne. Chop, grate, or slice them and toss into a hot wok with mixed vegetables, meat, or simple rice. Add-ins that complement the flavors of radishes include grated ginger, mirin, and light sesame oil.
  5. Sauté them. While stir-fried radishes remain spunky and crunchy, sautéed radishes become soft and mellow, almost sweet. If your radishes are small, cook them whole; otherwise, halve or quarter them to get them down to no larger than 1-inch pieces. Cook gently in butter (or substitute with a tasty olive oil) until lightly browned on the outside and soft on the inside. Finish off with fresh herbs and salt, and if you’re feeling frisky, toss with cooked, cubed pancetta and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  6. Mash them. Like most other root vegetables, radishes can be readily cooked and mashed into a soft, fluffy puree, ideal for trying a new twist on basic mashed potatoes. Simply boil until soft, then mash with butter or olive oil, sea salt, and perhaps crushed garlic cloves and a splash of milk. This is excellent served alongside grilled halibut on a warm spring evening.
  7. Hash them. Just as with mashing, root vegetables can be subbed in for potatoes to make great skillet hash. Just chop or grate radishes finely and use in place of taters for any breakfast-inspired hash: scramble with eggs, cheese, mixed vegetables, and even sausage of choice.

On a final note, remember this when experimenting with radishes this spring: You can eat the greens!  Those radish tops are perfectly edible, and they’re right at home in any dish calling for cooked greens. Add to soup, stir-fries, pesto, or pasta in place of spinach or kale … and you’ve found yet one more way to cook with radishes this spring.

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Image adapted from Migle, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0