Radishes are often relegated to the role of garnish – used more for their color than their taste. I still remember when as a child, I tried one of the pretty radish “roses” from a holiday vegetable platter, and I was shocked by its vibrant spiciness. I wasn’t sure I would ever try it again after that first surprising bite.

But thankfully, I’ve expanded my horizons and even learned to love radishes! There are many delightful ways to tame the heat and really enjoy them.

In Ayurveda tradition, radishes are believed to stimulate the flow of bile as well as help with the digestion of fat, promote the decongestion of the gall bladder, and to help cleanse the liver and blood. They are also a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients, and are part of the brassicaceae family, long researched for its cancer-preventing properties. They are quickly and easily grown, making them a boon for the home gardener.

The trick to really enjoying them is taming the spice with a healthy, traditional fat, or with heat. Here are a couple of tips for learning to enjoy the worthy — and often overlooked — radish.

Try a new variety

In exploring radishes, make sure you try the many lovely varieties out there! Black radishes have a creamy interior and a black-as-soot exterior. They are quite sharp when raw, but they mellow beautifully when roasted. Slice into thinnest of thin slices to serve raw, or cut into wedges to roast (perhaps with other vegetables). The Daikon radish is a long white root that is most often pickled. It is lovely in Asian-influenced dishes. Watermelon radishes are incredibly beautiful — when you cut them in half you will discover a beautiful pink interior. These are showstoppers when served raw. I also love the easier to find French breakfast, Easter, and typical red radishes!

Eat it like the French

As I mentioned, fat will really help you tame the heat of radishes. One lovely and simple way to enjoy radishes is to serve the scrubbed and cleaned radishes with a pat of high-quality butter and unrefined salt. Using a knife, spread the radish with a bit of butter, and then dip into the salt, and take a bite. Lovely!

Roast it

Roasted radishes are amazing. I was first introduced to this technique at an amazing restaurant where they served an incredible pasta dish dotted with roasted radishes. Tender and gentle in flavor, roasting completely tames the radish, and it is so simple to do! Get instructions here. You can eat them straight up as a side dish, or use it to top a variety of dishes. You can also roast the radish with a variety of other vegetables as well.

Enjoy the greens

The greens are nutrient dense and delicious, so it’s sad that we often waste them. My favorite way to enjoy them is to add them to soups and stews in the place of spinach or kale. Any soup recipe that calls for a similar green can use radish greens in their place. It’s a frugal practice too! Other ideas: Use in scrambled eggs, sauté in bacon grease, and tear into small pieces and add to a green salad. 

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