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In season late winter: Radishes

A bunch of bright red radish bulbs with vivid green leaves are a cheerful addition to a winter pantry. Their crisp crunch and mustardy bite provide lively contrasts to cold weather comfort food. Radishes are either small and round or cylindrical. Popular varieties grown in New Zealand are red brigade, Red Saturn, pink and white French Breakfast and large white Asian daikon.

Red radishes are available all year; the long white Asian daikon radish (known as lo baak) is available over winter.

Buying

Choose bunches of red radishes or daikon with firm smooth skin. Roots that are split or overly large will be fibrous or pulpy. Daikon more than 5cm in diameter may also be woody. They are usually sold with leaves attached, but avoid if wilted.

Storing

Trim tops and store radishes in the vegetable crisper of the fridge.

Nutrition

Radishes have a high water content so are not nutrient rich but they are a good source of vitamin C, with small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium and iron. The red-skinned varieties contain beneficial phytochemicals called glucosinolates and anthocyanins.

Using

Top and tail and rinse to remove any soil. Serve whole as crudité, or slice or julienne for salads and pickles. The young leaves can be used raw in salads or wilted and cooked like silver beet, or chopped and added to soups.

  • Simple potato and radish salad: boil or steam small waxy potatoes, halve and toss with slices or wedges of crisp radish, dress with whole grain mustard vinaigrette and small radish leaves.
  • Toss sliced radishes into a cooked chicken and celery stir-fry. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
  • Add spicy radishes to your favourite vegetable pickle to serve as antipasto.
  • Serve hot green beans with sliced or quartered radishes and an olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon dressing.

Did you know? Daikon radishes can grow to over 40cm long.

First published: Aug 2013



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