Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rethinking radishes...

It is the rare kid who enjoys the pungent, spicy snap of a radish. Adults, however, should be eating plenty of them throughout the growing season. Although it is usually buried in salads or cooked into an early death, it's time to celebrate the radish.

Radishes have been around for thousands of years and have been revered by all the great ancient civilizations. They are closely related to mustard, broccoli and watercress. You can eat them raw, cooked or pickled, and you can also eat the radish tops, which are highly nutritious and make for a great soup.

Radishes contain as much potassium as bananas. They're a great source of vitamin C, folate, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur, iron and iodine and have tons of fiber. They contain high amounts of antioxidants, which help prevent cancer. They are especially helpful in aiding digestion and improving liver and gallbladder function. Radishes regulate metabolism, improve blood circulation, and are a good treatment for acidity, constipation, nausea, gastric problems, gallbladder stones, and dyspepsia.

It is important to note that traditionally, radishes are not eaten at night or with milk. Why is this important? I am a huge believer in traditional nutrition, and I trust the wisdom of those who came before me to guide me in the right direction. Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine are especially important to me, and the aforementioned advice above comes from Ayurvedic medicine.

I prefer my radishes raw, with all the nutrients and enzymes intact. If you find them too sharp, removing the skin will take the edge off.

My favorite felon, Martha, has a fantastic radish and feta spread recipe.

Mariquita Farm has a list of great radish recipes - here are some of my favorites:

Spring Radish Salad
adapted from Verdura Vegetables Italian Style by Viana La Place

1 bunch fresh radishes
2-3 very sweet carrots
2 bunches arugula
salt and pepper to taste
E.V. olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges

Trim the radishes and slice them thinly. Peel the carrots and cut them on the diagonal into very thin slices. Snap the tough stems from the arugula. Gather the arugula into a bunch and cut it crosswise into strips.

Arrange the arugula on a platter. Scatter the sliced radishes and carrots over the arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly moisten the vegetables. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the salad.

Beijing Radish Salad
This can be made with watermelon radishes or other types.

1 bunch watermelon radishes or one medium daikon radish
2 tablespoons rice or balsamic vinegar (or a combination)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Wash and julienne radishes. They can be peeled (or not) as you like. I often use a mandoline to do the julienne-ing, or you can grate them. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and dress the radishes with the dressing.

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