Thursday, October 13, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Radishes

Bunched Red Radishes
By Chef Andrea
     Radishes are one of the oldest cultivated plant foods. There are two classifications of radishes--”Table” or “Spring” radishes and “Storage” radishes. Table radishes are one of the first crops we plant in the spring, with harvest just 4 to 6 weeks later. Green top red and French breakfast radishes are the two varieties we grow. They are tender with a thin skin and are meant to be eaten within a week or so after they are harvested. We actually plant them all throughout the summer and into the early part of the fall. 

     The other type of radishes we grow are storage radishes which include daikon, Black Spanish and beauty heart radishes.  Winter radishes are more sturdy, with a longer growing season, thicker skin and more dense flesh and they store very well. You’ll be receiving some of these varieties in some of the last boxes of the season.

Black Spanish Radish
     Radishes are eaten extensively worldwide. Often they are pickled, cured, dried or fermented to preserve them. Historical reports date back to 2000 BC where radishes are thought to have been included in the daily ration, along with onions and garlic, for the people building the Egyptian pyramids. With a history like this, there has to be something good for us in a radish! Radishes are a good source of vitamins A, C and B6 as well as magnesium, calcium and potassium. In traditional Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches and heal laryngitis. They are beneficial in helping to cleanse and detoxify the body and it is thought that they help prevent viral infections, such as colds and the flu, when consumed regularly. 

Beauty Heart Radish
     Radishes may be eaten raw, pickled, cured and also may be cooked. When cooked, either sauteed, stir-fried, braised or roasted, radishes lose their peppery flavor and become mild and slightly sweet in flavor. If you are one that shies away from radishes because you are still learning to like their peppery bite, consider cooking them. Don’t forget to eat the radish greens as well as they are packed full of nutrients! Radish greens may be added to stir-fries, simply sautéed alone or with other greens and dressed with salt and a splash of vinegar. They are often incorporated into soups and can also be eaten raw in salads. Quick pickled radishes make a nice condiment to enjoy on tacos, alongside grain dishes, lentils, beans or layered onto a sandwich.
     We hope you will look at radishes with a new set of eyes and take advantage of all they have to offer to your diet and your health.

Dal with Radish Raita

Yield: 6-8 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
2 ½ cups chopped onions 
1 ½ cups diced carrots 
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 ½ cups packed chopped spinach or other greens (chard, radish tops, kale, etc)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 

French Breakfast Radish
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (½ lemon)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 radishes, finely grated
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

1. For the dal: Melt the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots, salt, ginger, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, lentils, and ½ cup of the water and cook, stirring often, for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rest of the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, squeezing them with your hands to crush them. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked and the soup is thick, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the spinach or other greens and lemon, remove from heat, and add salt to taste.

2. While the soup cooks, make the raita: Stir together the yogurt, lemon, olive oil, salt, radishes, and mint in a small bowl. Serve the soup with a dollop of raita in each bowl.

Recipe borrowed from Alana Chernila’s book, The Homemade Kitchen.

Radish Top Pasta with Chickpeas & Parsley

Yield: 3-4 servings
6 oz fettucine pasta
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, small diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt plus more to taste
1 ½ Tbsp stoneground mustard
½ cup dry sherry
Radish greens from 1 bunch radishes, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups spinach or other greens, cut into bite-sized pieces (Kale, Chard, etc)
1 cup small diced spring radishes
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parmesan or other hard cheese, for serving

1. First, cook the pasta.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Set aside the reserved pasta water and the pasta until ready to use.
2. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot, add onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.  
3. Stir in 1 tsp salt and the mustard.  Stir to combine, then add the dry sherry.  Simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the radish greens and spinach or other greens.  Cover and continue to simmer for a few minutes, just until the greens are wilted.
4. Remove the cover and add the diced radishes, parsley and chickpeas.  Stir to combine and then add the pasta to the pan.  Bring everything to a simmer and then add about ½ cup of pasta water to the pan.  Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes to ensure everything is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and black pepper.  Add additional pasta cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce to your liking.
5. Serve warm, topped with freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese of your liking.

Recipe by:  Andrea Yoder

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