Today’s post is a real treat from a guest blogger! When Rachel is not crunching numbers, she enjoys crunching on fresh vegetables from her new garden. I hope you enjoy her story of discovering the beauty and taste of fresh radishes, and finding a recipe that includes both the root and leaves.
Radishes so tasty they inspired me to write a blog
Radishes are not my favorite food. They are hard, pungent, and have a propensity to be pithy and/or rubbery if left to their own devices for too long a time. So when I was looking to plant my spring garden, I was not inclined to waste precious space on such a disagreeable crucifer. But after reading that radishes can be co-planted with carrots to double up on space (as radishes grow quickly and would be harvested well before the carrots are large enough to need the room) and that this is a great way to break up the soil for the growth of the more tender root vegetables, I decided to spend the $1.89 for a packet of seeds and give it a go.
True to the promise of a quick growing season, last week, some of my first plantings were ready for harvest. I know only a couple of recipes that use radishes, and those call for only the roots. However, the plants looked so lovely and fresh when I plucked them from the ground, it seemed like a waste the throw out 2/3 of the plant, especially after all the work it took to grow them (mainly, to prepare the ground, since once I planted the seeds, they pretty much took off on their own). So I turned to a lovely book given to me by Sensitive Economist, Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, to see what could be done about the greens.
Not only did the book’s section on radishes regale me with tales of gardening in Alabama and give a lesson on the diverse varieties of radishes available (note to self: try planting the milder-flavored French Breakfast variety!), but it also persuaded me to try eating one of the radishes “as the French do”: raw, tender leaves and all, with a bit of (vegan) butter spread and salt. Magnifique! These radishes were tender and juicy, nothing like the grocery-store radishes I remembered. I ate all three, and had to go back to the garden for more to get the greens needed to make a vegan, sugar-free, yeast-free, gluten-free version of Madison’s delicious radish-top soup recipe.
Even without the butter, yogurt, and chicken stock, the soup has a light, clean, and surprisingly delightful flavor, thanks to the fresh radish greens. It’s perfect for a spring lunch! Unlike the roots, radish greens are very mild, but you can also add thinly sliced radish roots to the soup as well if you want a little more zest.
Radish Greens Soup
–1 tbsp olive oil
–½ onion, thinly sliced (1/4 c of sliced leeks or garlic chives would probably be good, as well)
–4 small or fingerling potatoes (I used the purple variety, which gave the soup a nice, rich color), thinly sliced
–4 cups water
–tops of 10 radishes, rinsed, thick stems removed, and coarsely chopped
–fresh lemons for garnish
Place the olive oil, onion slices, potato slices, and a generous sprinkle of salt (in that order) in the bottom of a large pan over low heat. Cook, covered, for approximately 15 minutes to steam the potatoes and carmelize the onions. Add 4 cups of water and stir, scraping the bottom to incorporate the carmelized onions, and add the radish greens. Cook just until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. Cool, puree, and serve with sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, and a slice of lemon squeezed over the top.
I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and recipe. I look forward to trying this one! And I am happy that you are enjoying Vegetable Literacy. It’s my go-to book for information and recipes. I appreciate your guest blog – number crunching gardeners are the best!
Thanks for sharing a use for radish greens. Your post is a reminder to me to use them! My CSA sent me beautiful ones, and I realized too late that I shouldn’t toss them. Next time I won’t.
I am trying to use the whole vegetable too, including the greens. It’s not something I am used to doing either. Enjoy your CSA – I like opening up my box each week to see what fresh produce is inside.