I love… RADISHES.

Photograph by Jack Monroe

Photograph by Jack Monroe

This year, we grew ‘family radishes’ in the garden in a little patch of soil, scattering a mixture of Bright Lights and French Breakfast seeds from the garden centre for a mixture of long fuschia delights, and tiny red and purple and yellow balls of crisp, fresh goodness. I wanted to firstly grow something that would keep my attention span – roughly six weeks from seed to harvest, while I waited for the tiny potatoes to grow a little – and to challenge myself with a New(ish) Food. I’ve only ever had radishes sliced thinly in a salad, which is a perfectly fine way to eat them, but I wanted to discover more about these little enigmatic vegetables.

July is a great month for radishes, whether they’re your own little seedlings scattered in soil six weeks earlier, or cheap and cheerful from the shops, they’re well in season, and taste just like they’re supposed to.

Jane Grigson was of the school of thought that a radish was best eaten straight from the ground – with a wipe on ones apron or a quick spritz under the tap first, of course! Hugh F-W smears his in butter and dunks them in salt – and I must confess to loving each as much as the other…

But there’s much more to the humble radish than slicing it up in a salad – so use the season to explore them while they’re inexpensive and widely available. I’ll be blogging a few radish recipes this week to show them off!

And if you’re curious, growing your own couldn’t be simpler; they don’t need much depth, or space, and grow from a tiny seed to a bright little vegetable in around 6 weeks – making them good for kids who might get bored watching a potato grow for months on end, or equally impatient adults like me..

So far, I’ve pulled up 140 radishes – an ample amount to explore and experiment with – and just shaken my jar of seeds over again to do a second lot. If you don’t have space for a grow bag, a Tupperware or plastic container on a sunny window ledge, filled with a few inches of soil, would work to grow them indoors. Fill it with earth and sprinkle a scant teaspoon of seeds evenly over the top – I tend to ignore the spacing rules that come on the back of seed packets – they’ll jostle each other over if they need to, and life is too short to measure 18cm rows…

Keep radishes in the fridge once pulled and cleaned, with the leafy green tops intact until you’re ready to use them. The leaves are a great indicator of freshness; sad and wilted leaves do not a happy radish make. Ideally, don’t pull them up until the day before you want to use them – they’ll keep a week or two in the ground, or a day or two in the fridge. I wrap mine in slightly damp kitchen paper and pop them in the fridge, and use them as quickly as possible for a bright, crisp flavour.

Here’s what I’ve made with them so far:

RADISH FATTOUSH

RADISH TOPS PESTO

RADISH, BROAD BEAN AND MINT RISOTTO
 

What’s your favourite radish recipe or idea? Tell me in the comments section below!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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17 thoughts on “I love… RADISHES.

  1. It’s well before breakfast here in Vermont, but I’ve enjoyed the steady flow of recipes for a veggie I’ve never been that enthused over. I know I’ll be picking some up at the farmers market this weekend for Rissotto.

  2. I grew some perfect plumptious radishes in a box in the greenhouse earlier in the year. After googling for inspiration on what to use them for, I came across a couple from the wonderful Mr H F-W which I tried. A chilled soup, which uses the tops too, and cooked ones, in a glaze. Both recipes were interesting, different and delicious. The soup in particular makes more of a meal of what is traditionally a mild, crispy accompaniment. I wrote them here http://thriftylesley.com/novel-uses-radishes/. And here http://thriftylesley.com/mealy-worms-double-crumbles-and-cooked-radish/

    They seem to be much more versatile than a humble salad ingredient

  3. I can’t wait to have my own space to grow veg! I’ve got a little calendar of what to plant when and how etc. one quick question, how do you know they’re ready to come out of the ground?

  4. This is my favourite radish recipe (so far – not tried your risotto yet which looks delicious). I got it out of a magazine years ago and haven’t kept a note of the author, but I know that they got it from a French magazine. It’s suggested to go with fish but I like it with all sorts. It tastes nice cold but then the butter doesn’t look good so best at least lukewarm.

    Citrus Radish Confit

    250g trimmed radishes
    finely grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon
    finely grated juice and zest 1/2 orange
    2 tablespoons granulated or castor sugar
    20g butter
    salt and pepper

    Trim the radishes and slice into discs about 5mm thick. Put into a wide shallow pan with all the remaining ingredients and enough water so that it almost covers. Bring up to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until all the liquid has reduced to a few tablespoons of rich buttery syrup and the radishes are tender. Serve warm (it reheats beautifully).

      • let us know what you think – I find even people who dislike raw radishes go for it in a big way!

  5. Excited now! I never knew I could grow radishes indoors, I live in a third floor flat thus no garden or balcony so limited to pots of herbs or so I thought. Jeez Jack you are such a star, cheers!

  6. Oh yes…I definitely want some decent radish leaves with them when I buy radishes. That’s half my (potential) food gone if those leaves are missing or too wilted to use. I like them sauted in a little olive oil personally and eaten as a “green” and will have them, for instance, with an egg and bit of tomato puree done at the same time in the sauté pan.

    On the subject of leaves that aren’t normally eaten – I do wish greengrocers/supermarkets would stop cutting off cauliflower leaves before they are put on sale. My favourite bit of a cauliflower is those leaves, chopped up very small and put in a casserole dish with a little oil and possibly some sliced onions as well and then baked in the oven for about 15 minutes or so. When I’m paying, say, a £1 for my cauli. then I DO want the rest of it as well for that (ie those leaves).

  7. I add mine to a spicey Chinese stir fry! They’re yummy and a beautiful colour!

    I’m confused tho Jack because I buy them and they keep for a long time x

    • I add them to stir fry too :)
      That’s about as exciting as radishes get in this house! Salad or stir fry. If they have leaves the guinea pigs get those, they’re not so keen on the radishes though

  8. have you tried growing pea sprouts – you can use the dried peas from the supermarket which are cheaper than garden seeds – they can be spread in a tray of soil approx. 4cms deep and watered occasionally and soon spout tops which both children and adults like to pick – and probably eat before they reach the table! mary carter

    ======================================== Message Received: Jul 09 2014, 10:49 AM

  9. I roasted some radishes along with a panful of beets last summer, and they were lovely – much sweeter than I expected.

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