It’s radish season! We love these crunchy little root veggies, so we’re shining a spotlight on them this week.
Because we know you all love plant taxonomy: radishes are a member of the Brassicaceae plant family, which makes them cousins to such diverse plants as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and mustard greens. Radish seeds sprout quickly and grow fast, which is why you find tender little ones for sale already at local farmers’ markets.
You could eat the green, leafy tops of the radishes you grow or buy at the market, but in most cuisines around the world, the fat taproots are the favorite part, mostly eaten raw. Radishes have a spicy, sharp flavor, thanks to the glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isothiocyanate they produce. Those chemical compounds also repel beetles, aphids and other pests, so some gardeners grow radishes near their cucumbers and tomatoes, just for their “repellent” qualities!
Radishes are mostly used in salads, but also appear in many European dishes. In Mexican cuisine, sliced radishes are used in combination with shredded lettuce as garnish for traditional dishes such as tostadas, sopes, enchiladas and Posole stew. In Indian cuisine the seed pods are called “moongra” or “mogri.”
Photo credit: White and red radishes at the Eugene Saturday Market, Visitor 7