By Amanda Stone
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.
Radish top soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, sliced
4 cups radish greens, raw
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream or plain Greek yogurt
Sliced radishes, for garnish
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and saute until tender. Mix in the potatoes and radish greens, coating them with the butter. Pour in chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, 30 minutes.
Allow the soup mixture to cool slightly. Transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
Return the mixture to the saucepan. Mix in the heavy cream or yogurt. Cook and stir until well blended. Serve with radish slices.
Adapted from allrecipes.com
1 pound radishes (about 25), julienned
1 1/4 cups sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
11/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Serve with sturdy crackers, toast and veggies.
Adapted from Martha Stewart magazine
Radish tea sandwiches
Trim and thinly slice 4 radishes. Mix together 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature), 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as chives and basil), and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a small bowl. Spread the herb butter onto 4 slices of sandwich bread (crusts removed). Layer on the radishes and top with remaining bread. Cut into quarters.
Source: Real Simple magazine
Spicy stir-fried radish greens and Swiss chard
8 to 10 ounces radish greens and/or Swiss chard, washed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 teaspoons peanut oil
2 large garlic cloves (for seasoning the oil)
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon (or less) Sriracha sauce or other hot sauce
Wash and dry radish greens and/or Swiss chard. If desired, soak greens for about 30 minutes in very cold water. (This ensures that they're crisp for the quick stir-frying.) Working in batches, cut greens crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside. Preheat a wok or large, heavy frying pan until very hot, then add the oil. When oil looks shimmering, add the garlic cloves and cook about 30 seconds, making sure garlic doesn't start to brown. Remove garlic and discard.
Add chopped radish greens and/or Swiss chard all at once and immediately begin to stir-fry, turning greens over and over just until they are almost all wilted. When greens are almost all wilted, add sauce ingredients, stir and cook 30 more seconds. Serve hot.
Adapted from kalynskitchen.com
Have questions? Email them to email@example.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.