You might think of radishes as small and crunchy, insignificant bits of color to add to a salad or side dish. But radishes were once so venerated in Greece that gold replicas were made, according to the Centers for Disease Control's produce education Web site. And in Oaxaca, Mexico, radishes star in a Christmastime festival in which they're used to make elaborate sculptures.
The most common radish is the Red Globe, the small round version with leafy green tops you might see in your local grocery store or farmers' market. Earthy black radishes are favored in Eastern Europe and Russia, writes Jeff Cox in The Organic Food Shopper's Guide. Pale, cylindrical daikon radishes are used in Asian dishes.
You can't beat the calorie count of the standard red radish: 1/2 cup of sliced radishes has just 10 calories. Keep it raw and crunchy, or cook it to mellow the flavor.
Look for radishes that are firm to the touch, not soft, says Jeff Cox in The Organic Food Shopper's Guide. Pass up any that have splits or cracks, he says, and make sure the leaves are fresh, not yellowed or dried out.
If you buy radishes with the leaves attached, remove the tops unless they will be served the same day, says the Web site www.fruitsandveggiesmatter .gov. Place radishes in perforated plastic bags, if they are not already packaged, and store in the refrigerator. Most varieties will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Black radishes can be stored for months if they remain dry, the Web site says.
You'll find radishes add crunch in salsas and salads.
Use them as a garnish on spring and summer soups.
The Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon suggests serving radishes with lightly buttered bread; sliced and added to beaten crescenza cheese; glazed with butter and sugar; or seasoned and stirred into yogurt with green apple.
Quinoa-and-Radish Salad With Avocado Dressing
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced, cored tomatoes (see note)
2 cups thinly sliced radishes
3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
In a food processor or blender, combine avocado, olive oil, vinegar, walnut oil, salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth and blended.
In a serving bowl, combine tomatoes, radishes and quinoa. Add dressing and toss until combined. Chill until ready to serve.
Note: If field tomatoes aren't in season, halved or quartered cherry tomatoes can be substituted.
Recipe and nutritional analysis from "The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook," by Judith Finlayson
Per serving: 239 calories, 5 grams protein, 14 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 216 milligrams sodium