You can still smoke out a few purists who venerate raw radishes as the perfect delivery system for peppery crunch in salads — and therefore exempt from culinary tampering. But such obstructionist stragglers are on the wrong side of history. Why hold these edible root vegetables hostage, forcing them to associate exclusively with chilly salad fixings and the usual suspects of dressings?
Radishes are cheap, flavorful, nutritious and versatile. Yes, you have to defer gratification to get them to a cooked state: think sautéed, roasted, braised, grilled, steamed or boiled. Soon you're forking up tender nuggets of slightly mellowed heat, joined with ingredients and flavors unimaginable while you were mindlessly slicing the cold little red globes.
Those regular red radishes, available year-round at grocery stores, cook up perfectly well. Fresh local radishes, including Easter egg and French breakfast varieties, are still available. Some farmers will skip planting during the summer heat and bring them back for a couple more months in fall. But other growers will continue to sow and harvest straight through, so check farmers markets and retailers such as the Barn produce market on Northeast 148th Avenue in Portland.
Wendy Gordon fixes easy seasonal meals for a seven-person household of three overlapping generations in Northeast Portland. In addition to her fragrant, multiflavored Sautéed-Radish Rice Bowls — which incorporate the radishes' greens — she suggests trying these preparations:
- Whole radishes roasted with olive oil and coarsely chopped anchovies (look for anchovies in jars)
- Halved radishes braised with honey, lemon and olive oil and topped with chopped chives
Sautéed-Radish Rice Bowls
4 servings as a light meal like brunch or lunch
Ready in: 30–40 minutes | Easy
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups brown jasmine rice
- 1 small knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, seasoned or unseasoned
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (gluten-free) or honey
- 2 large bunches of colorful radishes, greens attached
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, organic if you prefer GMO-free
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, or to taste
- Bring water to boil in a medium-sized covered pot over high heat.
- Add rice, lower heat to medium-low and stir. Return lid to the pot, leaving a small gap for steam to escape.
- Let cook until all the water is absorbed, approximately 30 minutes or so (check toward the end).
- Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
While the rice is cooking, make the dressing and cook the radishes.
- Grate about 1 tablespoon of the ginger into a small prep bowl with a Microplane or other grater.
- Combine ginger and other dressing ingredients in a small lidded glass jar; shake well. Set aside.
- Slice the greens from the radishes. Wash greens well and dry in a salad spinner.
- Gather greens in a bunch and quick-slice thinly, chiffonade-style. Set aside.
- Cut tops and tails off the radishes, and slice radishes very thinly.
- Pour canola oil in a medium skillet to coat and heat on medium-high for 20 seconds.
- Add the radish slices and sauté until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 3 minutes.
- Add the greens and sauté until wilted, stirring continuously, approximately 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat and toss with dressing in the pan.
To serve, ladle rice into individual bowls and top with radishes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
You will probably find yourself with leftover rice. This is purposeful! Refrigerate it in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid for up to a week. Cooked rice is great to have on hand for a quick meal. Combine it with other sautéed vegetables, grated cheese, yogurt, leftover meat or fish, scrambled eggs (à la fried rice) — anything that strikes your fancy. — W.G.