I was looking for a new spring vegetable to explore (move over asparagus and spring peas) and discovered a wealth of information about radishes. I should have titled this article “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Radishes but Were Afraid to Ask.”
The red and white Cherry Belle and French Breakfast European varieties are available in the spring and are the most familiar type of radishes to many shoppers. The large, white Japanese Daikon radish has been a part of a variety of Asian dishes for hundreds of years. It’s a vegetable that can be prepared in a number of ways, from raw slices to picked to roasted until slightly crisp, giving it a texture like a roasted potato.
You can find a vast array of radishes throughout the year, and best of all, you can eat a radish from the leaves to the bulb, so there’s no waste. When selecting radishes, make sure that they are firm to the touch, and the tops are fresh without any signs of wilting.
They are a root vegetable and a tuber in the Brassicaceae family, along with bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, rutabaga and turnips. Radishes come in numerous shapes, colors, sizes and varieties, including the beautiful watermelon radish with its pink and white swirls, and the spicy black Spanish radish.
Radishes are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re an important source of anthocyanins and flavonoids, and are extremely rich in vitamin C and folic acid, which medical studies have found to be positively linked to the decrease of some cardiovascular diseases. They’re also strong allies in the fight against cancer cell reproduction, particular colon cancer, kidney cancer, intestinal cancer, stomach cancer and mouth cancers.
Radishes are packed with fiber, have a low glycemic index, are high in potassium and help with the treatment and prevention of disorders of the liver, stomach, gall bladder, kidneys and urinary tract. Radishes also function as a diuretic and a type of detergent and disinfectant for the body by washing away toxins gathered in the kidneys, purifying the blood and stimulating bile production to relieve constipation.
This is particularly important for the treatment of jaundice. Radishes, especially the leaves and bulbs of the black radish, reduce red blood cell distribution, which occurs in people who suffer from jaundice, by increasing the fresh oxygen supply to the blood.
Another way to reap the health benefits of radishes is to pass the leaves and bulb through a juicer and drink the juice. Radish juice is a natural way to reduce fevers and help prevent inflammation and burning sensations in the digestive and urinary tract, and infections of the kidney and immune system by removing excess toxins.
If you’re only using spring radishes as part of a salad or a decorative garnish, and you’ve never tried the wide varieties and flavors that radishes impart to everything from pesto to stir fries and roasting, you’re missing out on indulging in both the nutritional benefits and the flavors of this overlooked tuber.
RADISH GREENS AND MUSHROOM TOAST WITH FETA CHEESE
Move over, avocado toast! This flavorful recipe is the perfect showcase for radishes and can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a light supper. You can experiment with any type of radish that is in season with delicious results.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 button or crimini mushroom caps, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup radishes, chopped finely, divided
2 cups radish greens, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon apple cider or rice wine vinegar
4 thick slices of country or French bread
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, plain or with herbs, if desired
- Preheat the broiler to 400 F.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Add in mushrooms, soy sauce, pepper and 1/2 of the radishes, and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the radish greens and the vinegar, and cook until greens are soft, about 3-4 minutes.
- Place the mushroom and greens mixture evenly on the slices of bread. Sprinkle the remaining radishes and then the feta cheese on top of the greens mixture. Place bread slices under the broiler; broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly brown. Serves 2 to 4.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis