The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

May 15, 2013

Amanda Stone: Radishes go well in salads

JOPLIN, Mo. — I was once asked this question: If you could only eat a food based on its texture, what would it be? My first thought was radishes.

Radishes have a perfectly crisp, cool crunch. The cool, slightly spicy flavor is just a bonus. Pudding was my second choice, but that's neither here nor there.

Radishes are ready in my garden right now. So are lettuce, kale and spinach. What wonderful salad serendipity. I plant radishes partly because they're yummy, but I have to admit that I love how quickly they're ready. I am a product of our instant gratification nation, after all. Kids love planting radishes for the same reason. My kiddo doesn't care much for their taste, but she loves to pluck the little red balls out of the dirt. Radishes only need about a month to grow, then they're harvested and a row is freed up in my garden to plant something that prefers the summer heat.

Pleasant crunch aside, radishes are good for you. They're in the cruciferous vegetable family, a cousin of uber-healthy kale, broccoli and cabbage. They have high water and roughage content, making them a great fill-you-up food. Their high level of fiber helps move food through your digestive system. They've been used for centuries as a medicinal food for liver and kidney disorders. And they're said to be good for stimulating circulation; helping to cool your body in the summer and warm you in the winter. They're also a great natural breath freshener. We can all use that sometimes.

Don't trash the tops; they're tasty and have even more vitamin C, protein and calcium than the roots. You may be a little put off by the fuzziness of radish greens. Get over it. Wash them well and add them to your salad, or cook them like you would any other green. Eaten raw, they have a mild bitterness; a nice surprise in a salad. They're great sauteed with a little bacon, like collard greens. I love food that we can use every part of. Radishes fit the bill.

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