Combine buttery sautéed radishes with earthy wild rice, crunchy almonds, and salty feta for a satisfying side dish.
I'm not a picky eater, but the older I get, the more I find myself learning to appreciate foods I once didn't care much about. Most recently, it was radishes. I used to consider radishes a bitter and boring nuisance. They were an unwelcome addition to salads that I left to drown in the pool of dressing at the bottom of my bowl.
Well, I've come to find that radishes can do more than ruin a salad. At times, they can even improve a salad or side dish.
I first started thinking differently about radishes a couple of years ago when I tried roasting them. That’s right; I cooked radishes - a concept that had never crossed my mind until I tried it in a recipe. I had thought people only ate them raw. But roasting radishes brought out the sweetness and depth I always thought was lacking.
How to grow your own radishes
Then I grew radishes in my garden. The difference between fresh radishes and the limp, flavorless ones in the grocery store is crazy. They’re definitely the kind of vegetable best enjoyed as close to picking as possible. You never know how fresh anything is in the grocery store, no matter what they try to convince you. Trust me.
If you can, you should try growing your own, too. Just get a pack of radish seeds and plant some in a small patch of dirt. They don’t take up much room, aren’t very needy, and the common variety takes only about a month until they’re ready to eat.
Keep radish seedlings well watered and thin them out as they grow. If you already have a garden, there’s no reason not to grow them. You can even grow radishes in containers. If I can’t convince you to eat them, radishes help improve the soil nutrients as they grow. So if nothing else, grow them for your garden then give them away.
If you can’t grow radishes, check your local farmers' market. Radishes are a cool-weather vegetable, and now is the time to find them before it gets too hot to grow them again until the fall. Heat turns radishes bitter and causes them to bolt.
You’ll find several kinds of different radishes again when fall approaches, such as the surprisingly vibrant watermelon radish, the large daikon radish, and the mysterious black radish. Give them each a try and see which you like best.
How to use radish greens
However you acquire your radishes, you want to keep them crisp. No one likes a soft radish. Trim off the roots and greens before storing. If young, the greens can be added to salads, while older, larger greens can be sautéed in oil with garlic. There are plenty of radish greens recipes out there, such as this beautiful-looking pesto, for starters.
How to store radishes
You can put the radishes themselves in a jar of water in the fridge. The water will keep them from drying out. Or you can place the radishes in a bag lined with moist paper towels. Though the sooner you can eat them, the better.
While I may be coming around to the idea of radishes, you still won’t find me snacking on them right out of the garden any time soon. It doesn't take long to cook radishes no matter what method you use. Grilled, braised, roasted, and sautéed radishes are all worth a try.
How to roast, grill, and sauté radishes
To roast radishes: halve the radishes depending on their size, toss with a little oil and salt, and roast at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
To grill radishes: it’s the same as roasting, but depending on how hot your grill gets — mine always gets hotter than necessary — it may take only 10 minutes. Use a grill basket to keep the radishes contained, and shake them around every few minutes.
To sautée radishes: I like to slice them rather thin and cook in butter over medium heat for just about 3-5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.
Radishes and butter, the perfect pairing
One of the best friends of the radish is butter. I’ve heard that people even eat them raw with cold butter. Weird. But I get it. Butter helps mellow the strong bite that radishes often possess. I’d rather cook them with butter, as the process of cooking also helps tame the flavor. Or grow them before the heat of summer to limit their bitterness.
Once you’ve cooked radishes, how do you make them more than just a snack? They’re not big enough to serve as a side dish on their own. Raw radishes are fine in salads, pickled or chopped, and thrown into tacos. When cooked, you can incorporate radishes into other dishes, such as rice, omelets, soups, or pair them up with other root vegetables.
In this recipe, I mix sautéed radishes into a wild rice blend, along with fresh herbs, feta, and almonds to make a simple side dish. I used enough radishes to make them a prominent component, but not an annoying addition I’d try to pick out. And I don't do that anymore, anyway. 😉
What is wild rice?
Wild rice is a grain that grows in shallow waters, such as small lakes and streams. It was first grown commercially in the 1950s in Minnesota, where it remains the state grain today. However, Native Americans have harvested and eaten wild rice for many years, using it to make stews, stuffings, and puddings. Three out of the four kinds of wild rice are native to North America. The fourth is from China.
I like to use a wild rice blend rather than 100% wild rice. Why? For starters, pure wild rice is not cheap. But it also has a strong flavor and texture that I find to be too much on its own. I much prefer the mix of grains in the blends that offer a range of flavors and textures. Blends, such as this one from Lundberg I often buy, contain black, brown, red, and wild rice.
Make it a meal. Try pairing this side dish with my recipe for Rhubarb and Apple Chutney with Pork Chops.
What do you think? Will you try cooking radishes now?Print