What the *&@#%!$ Should I Do with All These Radishes?

Slice them thin in salads. Or serve them with a slather of butter and a dunk in fleur de sel as a predinner munch. Or, um … (Crickets.)

That peppery root vegetable, part of the brassicaceae family (its cousins include the cabbage, turnip, mustard, and wasabi plant), is woefully underused in the American kitchen. Radishes' bad reputation seems to have started way back in Pliny's era, when he proclaimed the radish "a vulgar article of the diet" that has a "remarkable power of causing flatulence and eructation."

Pliny, you and your false claims of farts and burps, simmer down. Radishes are not only rich in folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, and calcium, but Matthew Biggs and Jekka McVicar, in Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, conclude that radishes relieve flatulence.

At Per Se, Thomas Keller cooks radishes sous-vide in olive oil, thyme, garlic, white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. They become translucent, an exquisite addition to any plate. But for those of us home cooks who don't have a sous-vide machine handy, when faced with an overflowing box of radishes, trim the greens off, give them a good wash, and:

  • Roast, quartered or sliced into quarter-inch rounds, on a roasting pan at 350°F with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a grind of pepper, for about 20 minutes or until they've crisped.
  • Slice thin and garnish cold soups with rounds—they're beautiful, and it's easy to make a ring of overlapping rounds resemble a fancy-pants floral garnish.
  • Add to stir-fries for crunch and spiciness.
  • Braise with stock and butter in a covered pan until tender, then crank up the heat to glaze.
  • Pickle them (Sarah Greenberg, formerly in charge of Gramercy Tavern's pickle station, says that "radishes are some of the best pickling items in the world"), and use long after your CSA box has gone radish-dry.
  • Pan-fry, grated and mixed with onions, salt, pepper, and egg, to make a latke-inspired radish pancake.
  • Or use them in one of these super-simple recipes:

    Radish-Apple Salad

    Equal parts radishes and apple, julienned
    Just enough Greek yogurt to bind everything together
    Lemon juice
    Freshly ground pepper
    Salt

    Mix all ingredients together, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you use pink radishes, the yogurt will turn a nice blush color.

    Miso-glazed Radishes (adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 pound radishes, cleaned and cut into equal-sized pieces (approximately 1 inch)
    1/2 cup stock or water
    1 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon mirin
    2 tablespoons white miso, whisked into 2 tablespoons water until it dissolves

    Combine first five ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking until radishes are tender but not mushy, approximately 15 minutes. (Add more water or stock if your pan goes dry and the radishes still need more time.) Add miso mixture and cook on low heat another few minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately.

    Image source: Flickr member La Grande Farmers' Market under Creative Commons