The red radish is a root vegetable with white flesh and a skin and shape that can vary. Some varieties are round, while others are elongated, and colors can range between light pink and scarlet. This subtly peppery vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. Radish tops are edible and offer many culinary possibilities.
Red radish is available throughout the year, because it is grown in greenhouses. But it actually comes into season between March and June, when grown in open fields. It is sold in bunches at markets. The top should be bushy and very green, while the radish itself should be small, firm, and smooth, and it should split when broken, never be spongy. Radishes can be found cleaned and packed into bags in supermarkets.
Completely remove the top and roots. Do not peel. Wash radishes in cold water. Those grown in the open may need to be soaked for a few minutes to remove all traces of soil. Set aside the green tops to make a soup or puree.
Radishes can be pan-fried or steamed.
The easiest way to eat radish is served with butter salt and a piece of bread. It can be sliced into thin rounds to enliven a mixed salad or served as a salad, dressed with crème fraîche and lemon juice. It can be cut into julienne strips and used to fill maki rolls. Steamed and glazed radishes make a good garnish for meat and fish dishes. Red radishes can also be made into a cream or gazpacho. The greens can be used to make cream soups, purees, pesto, and in gratin dishes and quiches.
Red radishes can be kept for several days in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator but should be eaten quickly, because they become soft and increasingly hotter as they age.
Being 95 percent water, a radish has very few calories. It is relatively high in minerals (particularly potassium), folic acid (vitamin B9), and dietary fiber. It is high in sulfur compounds, which can make it difficult to digest. But these compounds, the same as those found in cabbage, also have a protective effect against cancer. Because radishes are also high in vitamin C, the combined effect is a very preventive one. Munching on a radish as an appetizer is highly recommendable. It is a more beneficial substitute for peanuts, almonds, and crackers.
Small radishes or year-round radishes: Seasonal radishes—Round (globe) radish, red heirloom varieties, long pink radish with white tip, semi-long scarlet radish with very white tip. Greenhouse radishes—Semi-long pink radish with white tip, semi-long scarlet.