CSA Veggie of the Week: Radish

Photo: Urban Combing/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’ve spent way too much time thinking about radishes this week. In fact, I looked in about six cookbooks and through an online database and came up with relatively few recipes.

Here’s what I’ve concluded about the golf ball–size item: It’s the tofu of vegetables. It takes on pretty much whatever flavor you put it in, adding just the slightest bit of texture (crunchiness, unlike tofu’s relative mushiness).

That’s not to say it doesn’t have some value. I, for one, love crunch. And there are a dozen or so varieties with pretty great names like Champion, Icicle, and my personal favorite, Burpee White. They add a nice peppery flavor to salads, and when they’re sautéed in butter, they taste, ahem, buttery and delicious. (Honestly, though, what cooked in butter doesn’t melt in your mouth?)

If you do end up with radish bunches in your weekly CSA share, a few things to know. You can eat the greens. The plant is part of the mustard family, and according to LocalHarvest, can aid in digestion. Refrigerated and wrapped, radishes can last for up to a week, states the University of Illinois Vegetable Directory. “Both summer and winter radishes store well in the refrigerator once the tops have been removed. The radish leaves cause moisture and nutrient loss during storage. Store greens separately for two to three days.”

During our first few share pick-ups, we got about a dozen radishes. My favorite preparation came from a Cooks Illustrated recipe that combined a couple cucumbers, half a dozen radishes, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 1/3-cup plain yogurt. (Unfortunately, that magazine’s website is subscription-only so we can’t include the link. E-mail me separately if you want more specifics.) We paired the side dish—which hinted of tzatziki flavor—with branzino, a light white fish we pan-cooked.

We also tried a dish from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook that paired snow peas and radishes in an Asian-style sauce. It was good, but again, it felt like all the radishes added was some crunch. Apologies to the radish enthusiasts among you, but I probably won’t seek out this vegetable any time soon.

That said, here are a couple recipe options, if you’re so inclined to try: 

Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad, Martha Stewart (Note: this is another option to the Chang recipe referenced above)
Fish Tacos with Salsa Verde and Radish, Martha Stewart
Romaine and Radish Salad with Buttermilk Lemon Dressing, The New York Times
Pickled Radishes, Bon Appétit

On a side note, in Wednesday’s New York Times, there was an article called “Raw Panic” that summed up how some people feel when they get their green haul. “Vegetable anxiety,” the article reads, “can strike anyone at this time of year: CSA subscribers, compulsive farm-stand stoppers and even vegetarians.” I just point that out to say you’re not alone and hopefully we can help you through a small piece of your vegetable journey.

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