Hello my dear readers,
It is time to discover another one of my favourite veggies: the radishes.
In today’s post we will discover:
- History, origins and characteristics of radishes
- How to choose radishes
- How to clean radishes
- How to store radishes
- How to cook radishes: cooking methods and preparation
- Recipe ideas with radishes
- Properties and benefits of radishes
History, origins and characteristics of radishes
There is no absolute certainty about the place of origin of the radish, a plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family, but it seems to be identifiable with the easternmost areas of Asia, China and Japan. In fact, China has the largest number of radish varieties. There are known about 350 genres and 3000 species.
Others say that all varieties are supposed to have originated from Japan, and from there these roots would then spread to Europe.
The name instead has Greek origins “raphanos” or turnip or “raphis” or needle because of the shape of the roots, someone claims it comes from the Persian “raphe” because of the speed with which the plant grows.
In Japan there is a variety of radish called Daikon which has enormous dimensions: it can reach a meter in length and even weigh 4 kg. Here in Singapore Daikon is very common and I buy it quite often. Its taste is really like the usual small red radish.
The radish was already known at the time of the construction of the pyramids, when it was consumed by the Egyptians together with garlic cloves.
The Greeks and Latins also knew its virtues and used it to calm coughs and to facilitate digestion.
The radish has white, crunchy and slightly spicy pulp.
There are various types of radish: roundish, the most common, red in color and which may have a white root tip; half-long, with a long root; elongated, long-rooted with a cylindrical shape, like Daikon.
Raphanus sativum is a herbaceous plant that does not exceed one meter in height. It is biennial and produces only one fruit at a time. The seed differs from the others, as it is particularly resistant to harsh climates, germinating rapidly in the hot months, between February and July.
It adapts easily to the environment and to the cultivation soil, even if it prefers a soil rich in nutrients and minerals.
It is cultivated for its root, since the usually round, sometimes elongated root is the final product of food interest.
- Slightly spicy flavor, particularly pungent
- Consistency: crunchy (it is advisable to dip the radishes in cold water before consumption to increase their crunchiness)
- External color: bright red or white
- Pulp color: ice
How to choose radishes
The best radishes are the smaller ones, because the larger ones can be woody. The leaves not withered are a sign of freshness.
How to clean radishes
You need to remove the tip and the leaves of the radish and then leave it in cold water for a long time to make it even more crunchy. Remove the radicle and the green part, if present.
How to store radishes
They can be stored in the refrigerator in the fruit and vegetable compartment. It is a hardy vegetable that lasts 6-7 days but must be eaten before the leaves will wilt.
Freezing is strongly not recommended, as they may lose their crunchiness and texture.
How to cook radishes: cooking methods and preparation
With an extremely delicate flavor, it can be eaten both raw and cooked.
With cooking, the flavor of radish softens, it is reminiscent of those of turnips, and can be added to various dishes: soups, omelettes or even boiled meat.
In the West it is eaten mainly raw as an appetizer, in pinzimonio or in salads, for example, with green beans, corn and cherry tomatoes for a multicolored effect.
The most common way to eat radish is as a raw ingredient in salads, sandwiches and other snacks where it represents a crunchy, colorful element with a slightly sour taste.
To accentuate these characteristics, after having cleaned and cut it, immerse it for a few minutes in a bowl with water and ice.
Alternatively, raw radishes can also be served in pinzimonio or in vinegar.
Cooked radish is just as tasty though.
How to cook the roasted radish: cut the vegetable into thin slices and brown it for about 10 minutes. In this way you will have a perfect side dish, even more delicious if flavored with pumpkin and sesame seeds.
How to cook radish leaves: Radish leaves are also edible. They can be eaten raw or cooked, as a condiment for pasta, in salads or as an ingredient in pesto, soups or omelettes. Reduce the leaves to get a thick consistency, add a drizzle of cream and other ingredients, such as zucchini or potatoes. You will get an exquisite, bright green cream, perfect to accompany land or sea dishes.
Recipe ideas with radishes
There are numerous recipe ideas with radishes, easy and quick to make.
The radish and carrot salad is the simplest. Clean all the vegetables, take an onion and chop it. Put it in the water for about 10 minutes, then let it drain and dry it. Peel some carrots, then cut them into thin strips, obliquely. Wash the radish, also removing the leaves, and cut it into rings. Then take the stalk of a celery, remove the excess filaments and cut it into cubes. Start preparing the dressing now. In a bowl, pour two tablespoons of mayonnaise, the juice of one lemon and four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir the mixture to combine all the ingredients. Finally, put the vegetables in a large bowl and season them with the sauce you have prepared. Add a few stalks of chives if you like and serve the dish with warm croutons.
Another tasty combination is the carrot and radish flans. Boil the carrots, cut them into small pieces and chop them in a blender. Add a drizzle of cream, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, breadcrumbs and four previously beaten eggs. Then butter some molds and pour the resulting cream. Cook in a bain-marie in the oven for about 40 minutes at 160 °. Once cooked, cut the radish and serve the flans with this side dish.
Another exceptional salad is that of radish and spinach leaves. Wash the vegetables, cut the radish into thin slices and separate the spinach leaves, then place them in a large bowl. Take an apple, remove the skin, core and seeds, cut it into thin slices, same as radish, and place it in the bowl with the other ingredients. Season with oil, salt and, if you like, a pinch of pepper. You will have a tasty salad to accompany meat dishes.
Radish is also perfect in pinzimonio. Wash and dry the radish, then place it in a bowl. Prepare the pimzimonio with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. Dip the radishes into the pinzimonio and enjoy them.
If you are looking for a second course based on vegetables, you can prepare the stuffed radish. Wash the radish under running water, cut the top and empty the inside. Prepare the filling in a bowl: take the robiola cheese, a few mint leaves, the inner part of the radish you have emptied, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients and add a tablespoon of oil. The cheese will make the filling soft and tasty. Once the dressing is prepared, fill the previously emptied radish and close it with the top: you can serve it alone or as an appetizer.
Another delicious salad is that of radish with radicchio and avocado. Clean the vegetables and avocado and season everything with salt, lemon and oil. If you want to make it a single dish, add some grilled chicken too.
Radish is also ideal in soups with broccoli and potatoes. In a pan, sauté some leeks. Once golden, add the chopped vegetables and water: when the vegetables are cooked, blend everything until you get a soft consistency cream. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. After leaving it for a few minutes to soak in cold water, add the radish: here you have a perfect cream!
Properties and benefits of radishes
Radish has numerous properties and benefits.
It is full of water and contains only 11 calories per 100 grams of product and is therefore suitable for consumption as part of a low-calorie diet.
Radish contains many nutrients: iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins B, C and folic acid.
It has diuretic and purifying properties, and its ability to reconcile sleep was known since ancient times.
They have a low glycemic index, making them suitable for those with diabetes.
Radish also helps relax muscles and the nervous system, while, in the form of an infusion or decoction, it can be used as a cough suppressant and to fight respiratory infections.
In ancient times it was also used as a natural remedy for the flu.
The known contraindications in the case of excessive consumption are: irritation of the gastric and intestinal walls, with meteorism phenomena.
Consumption is not recommended for those suffering from gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux and irritable colon. It can cause laxative effects, albeit mild.
It does not contain gluten.
Radishes can reach half a meter in length and two kg in weight. In Java there is a snake radish that reaches 50 meters in length.