Radishes, which are plentiful now in local farmers markets, probably originated in Asia. They are a root of the crucifer family, which also includes cabbage, turnip, broccoli and horseradish. They can vary in color from white to red, purple and even black, and in size from tiny globes to the giant elongated daikon.
Americans are most familiar with the small, round, red-skinned radish that is commonly used as a crunchy, peppery accent in salads or as a garnish.
Before refrigerating, remove and discard the green leaves, but leave the root ends on until just before using. Store in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper for up to five days. (Winter radishes will keep longer.)
Scrub under cold running water and trim before slicing, dicing, shredding or serving whole. For added crispness, soak in ice water for a couple of hours.
A 1/2 cup serving (about 12 medium) of fresh, sliced raw red globes has about 12 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber and provides a goodly amount of potassium, vitamin C and folate.
The large Chinese and Japanese varieties can be substituted in recipes calling for turnips.
Bud Benton, of Mon Jardin at the Red Stick Farmers Market, says his favorite radish recipe is very simple: “Wash and chill your favorite radishes. I prefer the French breakfast variety, sliced or julienned. Dip the radish pieces into melted butter, sprinkle with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning or your favorite seasoning, and enjoy with a frosty beer. I have not tried any other beverage, but I’m sure others would work.”