These sweet looking radishes are the first vegetable to make it on my 2019 “Dirt List.” I couldn’t wait to bite into them when I received them from Tom Thiltgen of Thiltgen Farms on Easter.
Tom sent me the photo and asked if I wanted to try the “Easter Egg” radishes that were ready for harvesting. I was very excited to say “Yes!” and “Thank you!” I equate the opportunity to receive fresh vegetables out of the ground right up there with gifts on Christmas morning.
I was introduced to the “Dirt List” when I visited the restaurant Vedge in Philadelphia a few years ago. Chef’s Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby created their “Dirt List’ after receiving a sample box of local vegetables from a co-op in that area. It was filled with vegetables picked that morning.
In the cook book, which shares the same name as the restaurant, the chefs share their thoughts about how that sample box helped them create the Dirt List.
“The box contained carrots with their bright green leaves attached; fennel with beads of water on it that looked juicy enough to bite into like an apple; Swiss chard so crisp you could snap a leaf off. These vegetables tasted like vegetables – sweet and juicy with an undercurrent of earthiness you can get only when your food has just been pulled from your garden," they wrote.
"The Dirt List was born from this concept:fresh seasonal vegetables, much of it less than twenty four hours out of the ground – cooked simply."
This concept of fresh and simple has found its way into my kitchen more and more over the years. It doesn’t take a complicated recipe to create a flavorful fresh dish when you have vegetables that carry the flavor for the dish.
Radishes usually are not the most exciting choice for a lot of people. I love them and enjoy trying all of the varieties available during the growing season.
The varieties of radishes available now are quick-growing spring roots. The most popular spring varieties are those that have bright red or red-white round roots (pictured), watermelon radishes with pink or red flesh, early scarlet or red globe and white icicle, a long-rooted spring variety.
The common red radish found year round at the grocery stores is the red globe variety. The spring version of these radishes are much less pungent.
Other radishes are slow-growing summer and winter vegetables. These radishes take twice as long to mature as the spring varieties, and are usually grown for winter storage. The round black Spanish is a popular heirloom variety which is crisp, sweet and mild.
The daikon radish, a favorite variety in Asian cultures, is a very large carrot-shaped root, growing up to 3 feet long, although it is typically 12 to 18 inches in length. The flesh of the daikon is typically more pungent in the spring but milder than the winter radish. This radish is traditionally pickled in Asia and eaten after the rice portion of the meal to aid in digestion.
The radish is a root vegetable whose white flesh resembles that of a turnip in its texture, but whose sharp biting flavor is unique. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family.
All varieties of radishes and their greens (which are edible) are very low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin C. The radish leaves contain six times the vitamin C of the root and are a good source of calcium. Other nutrients available in radishes are molybdenum, folic acid and potassium. Daikons are a good source of copper and potassium.
The health benefits of eating radishes and their greens include maintaining a healthy gall bladder and liver and improving digestion. (Individuals with gall bladder disease should not consume large amounts of this vegetable.)
To prepare any radishes, scrub them as you would carrots, peel if desired, then slice, chop, julienne or grate as required for the recipe. All varieties can be used raw and also stand up to long cooking times as additions to soups or casseroles.
To keep radishes crisp when using them in cooked dishes, sprinkle them with a little salt after peeling and let stand for 20 minutes, then rinse well before adding to your recipe. Steaming radishes results in a milder-tasting flavor. Steam 8-12 minutes.
Create your own Dirt List and have fun checking it off as you have the opportunity to find locally grown vegetables right out of the ground this spring and summer.
Try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Box):
Hudson Farms http://www.hudsonfarmswv.com/
Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective https://turnrow.localfoodmarketplace.com/
Gritts Farms http://www.grittsfarm.com/csa.html
Visit the Farmer’s Markets in and around your area https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
The Wild Ramp in Huntington http://wvhub.org/support-your-farmers-by-signing-up-for-a-csa-wild-ramp-now-accepting-signups/
Ask these questions:
If you are looking for organic, as well as local, ask if the vegetable and fruits are free of pesticides.
Do they grow their own produce or it is trucked in from other states? (Surprisingly, many vendors at Farmers Markets bring in produce from out of state)
When was the produce picked and how long has it been sitting out for sale?
How to cook Radish Greens and Roots
Stretch your food dollars further by eating the radish greens with the plant. You will enjoy the nutrition boost from eating the greens, too, as their nutritional value far exceeds that of the roots!
Yield: 2 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
1 bunch of radishes with greens (about 8 to 10 radishes with greens)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Heaping ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 big cloves)
½ teaspoon unrefined salt
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
Separate each radish root from its greens and make 2 piles. Wash the roots well under running water, scrubbing to remove any soil. Fill a bowl with water and dip the greens to clean.
Remove the root tip from each radish and discard (compost if you can.) Slice to top, then cut into thin half circles. Slice the greens into thin strips about ¼ - ½ inch wide.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Sauté the roots for 6-8 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent and become soft. Add the thyme and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Next add the chopped greens and cook until they are wilted down, about 1-2 minutes more.
Serve as a side dish to any meal. This makes an especially tasty breakfast dish with avocado added on top
Baked Roasted Radishes (www.growforagecookferment.com)
Be simple with your radishes. Slice or grate them into a salad or choice, roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, slice and place them on a sandwich, ferment or pickle them, sauté them with other vegetables or use the radish greens in a pesto dish. Here is a simple use by cutting, seasoning and roasting. You can use globe radishes if you wish, I am using julienned Daikon in this photo.
Yield: 3 cups
Total time: 35 minutes
2 pounds radishes (trimmed and halved) If using Daikon 2 large pieces
3 tablespoons Olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste when done)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss radishes with olive oil and spices. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure each radish touches the pan.
Roast for about 30-35 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.