Market Watch: Radishes

Don't underestimate the nutritional and culinary punch of the seemingly-humble radish.
636495250

636495250

Photo by: Maryna Iaroshenko

Maryna Iaroshenko

Grown throughout the world, radishes come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the large, white daikon to the ping-pong ball sized red globe radish. They range in flavor too, from slightly peppery to seriously pungent. What they have in common is a satisfyingly crunchy texture and an ability to add fresh flavor to all sorts of dishes. Though they are in season all year long, they are at their peak from spring to summer. Look for them at local farmer’s markets, where you are likely to find varieties like the whimsically named French breakfast radish, an elongated red-skinned radish with a white tip and a mild flavor, striking black radishes that pack a seriously spicy punch, and gorgeous pale green watermelon radishes that reveal a hot pink interior once sliced.

Radish facts

Radishes belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and like cousins broccoli and cabbage, offer up a wealth of nutrition. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals called indoles, which have a detoxifying effect on the body. What’s more: radishes have only 20 calories in an entire cup.

Choose radishes that are firm and free of cracks or brown spots. Before refrigerating them, snip off the greens and place the red bulbs in a plastic bag. If the greens are still crisp and not beginning to wilt, rinse them and refrigerate them separately. Plan on using the leaves within a day or so, as they won’t stay fresh for long. The radish bulbs can be stored up to two weeks.

What to do with radishes

Most often, radishes lend their peppery flavor to salad and slaws. But it’s a shame more people don’t know just how versatile these veggies can be. While delicious raw, they also stand up well to cooking and even pickling. Roasting them at high heat intensifies their sweetness, all but erasing their spicy flavor and making them taste more like mild turnips.

For a colorful springtime side dish, roast halved radishes and asparagus at high heat until tender and caramelized. Or try sautéing them briefly in olive oil with minced shallot and snap peas. For an elegant appetizer, forget the crudités platter. Instead, plunge French breakfast or Easter egg radishes in ice water, halve lengthwise and serve with pots of softened butter and flaky sea salt for dipping. And don’t forget the greens: Use them as you would spinach—toss them into a salad, stir into a soup, or sauté them with other greens.

Recipes to try

Main course:

Side dishes:

Salads & Slaws:

Abigail Chipley is a freelance recipe developer, writer and cooking teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Market Watch: French Breakfast Radishes

I spotted piles of these spectacular red and white root veggies at the farmers’ market and had to scoop them up. They taste even better than they look.

Market Watch: Celery Root

This root veggie might look a bit unusual, but don’t let that scare you away from giving it a chance. Celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) is a delicious early fall treat.

Market Watch: Seasonal Tomatoes

Because we’re celebrating tomatoes this week, I went to my farmers' market and bought every kind of tomato I could find. Here’s how I made out.

Market Watch: Rainbow Chard

My CSA box is erupting with gigantic bunches of this leafy green veggie. This variety of Swiss chard has fluffy, tender green leaves and edible stems bursting with color and flavor.

Market Watch: Tomatillos

Here’s what to do with fresh tomatillos from the local farmers market.

Market Watch: Shell Beans

Also known as “cranberry” beans, these red and beige beauties are all over my market right now. They made an unusual addition to my summer succotash.

Market Watch: Green Peas

Green peas are sitting in natural little packages just waiting to be plucked. Visit your local farmers' market and dive into a basket of this spring treasure.

Market Watch: Fiddleheads

They sure are funny-looking, but fiddleheads are a truly unique market find. They’re only available for a few short weeks a year so get ‘em while you can!

Market Watch: Pea Shoots

A true farmers’ market find: Tender pea shoots are too delicate and perishable for the supermarket. Use them in our easy summer roll recipe.