I pulled up a couple of radishes the other day. They are really HOT! Very strong. And the tops are going wild, getting huge. I did some internet search and according to many, radish leaves are edible. Supposedly sautéed or raw in salads they are edible. I've never tried it. I'm going to pull them up today and let you know what happens when I try to cook them.
I never really believe the internet stories about things like this. I suspect most of them are written second hand by writers who are trying to earn a living supplying content, so are just spitting out what what they have found in research. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, but seldom do I find following their advice gives the glowing results they promise.
So I'm going to just take some pictures and write some notes and share it with you. Here are some pictures of the current crop and harvest. Stay tuned for the cooking demo.
The radishes are getting big, woody and strong. So I think it's time to harvest and maybe start a second crop. Here are some general guidelines I garnered from my research:
- Use radishes that are smooth and brightly colored.
- Avoid ones with white or brown scars or black spots. (Although none of the sources said why that would be bad. That's incomplete advice. Comment if you know why and let us know.)
- Slice off the roots and leaves. Wash and pat dry then store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. I tried putting some in the fridge without the bag and they dried out in a day or so.
- Cook radishes to tone down the bitter flavor. Stir frying is suggested. Otherwise serve them raw sliced, diced or grated.
Ok I never cooked a radish, only eaten them raw. I like them, especially with salt on them. Always found them good in potato salad. If you have a favorite recipe, add it to the comments and I'll try it and let you know how it works for me. this is going to be about the greens.
I'll stick to simple ideas. I don't know what to expect so I don't want to mix up something with lots of spices or flavors that mask the base flavor. If you can't eat it with the barest minimum of treatment, I don't' think you can ever eat it. (I learned this from trying to eat kale. Nothing seems to improve it that I have tried. Just hate that stuff.)
Now on to the greens.
It's a prickly problem.
The variety I am growing has prickly things on the back. Since they are recommended for salads, I figured I'd just pluck one and eat it. I'll go get one now.
OK! I'm back. Not bad at all. I could feel the spikes, but they were soft and did not pose a problem at all. Older leaves might be different, but these relatively young plants are edible. Tastes a lot like arugula. I could envision this in a salad, and in fact, later when I cook dinner I'm going to try it out.
But just in case you get some hard spikes, it might be handy to know how to deal with them. According to the internet, cooking will soften them up.
List of suggested preparations
I've gathered what seems to be the most sensible ideas in one place.
- sauté with garlic for three minutes.
- Add to stir frys
- Slice in thin ribbons and top noodles or rice.
- Put them in a sandwich.
- Put them in a soup.
I'll try sauté first. I have a couple of vegans in the house, so I'll try olive oil for them and butter for the rest of us. Then I'll try a ham sandwich and see what happens. Back in a bit with the results.
Big leaves so I sliced them up a little. Probably not necessary.
They cook down and get really small. They also cook really fast. The person who wrote article I read that said they sautéed them for 3 minutes probably didn't actually use a timer. In 3 minutes they would definitely have a snotty consistency. Not that they're snobbish or anything, just a bit on the slimy side. (Actually a lot on the slimy side.) If you try this keep your eye on them and get a feel for what's going to happen - and how fast.
These things absorb oil. I would not be exaggerating if I said you could dump a truck load in the gulf and clean up the whole thing. So don't over do it. Also, the guy who said he cooked them with garlic, probably never tasted them. It's edible with olive oil and garlic, but widespread appeal is questionable.
Better with butter. I tried several times with and without garlic and other stuff. The thing that tasted the best was a little bit of butter, a little salt, mix them up in the pan to distribute the butter, then put a lid on it for a minute or until everything is wilted and not too snotty.
The good part, the part I was testing out - no spiny things. Everything was nice and soft.
They completely lose the arugula flavor and taste more like cooked kale. Probably won't be in my diet so much, but others in the house liked them. Hopefully they weren't just saying that because of my overbearing personality and the impression that I have that everyone is trying to please me.
But how did they perform in the ham sandwich?
The Radish Hammy
The spikiness was not so noticeable in a sandwich situation, but it did come through every now and then. It was not painful and I wouldn't make me not eat the sandwich. The arugula flavor was noticeable, and overall it was a good addition to the sandwich. I would try that again. Okay, let's try some cooking again.
Here's the stir fry stuff.
- Onion (from the store)
- Radishes and Radish Tops
- Golden Sweet Peas
Ok, come back after dinner and I can tell you how they did in a salad and a stir fry.
Makes a pretty plate - good enough to post on FB, But...
The full report.
- Salad - the radish leaves were pretty bitter. The spikiness wasn't painful but it was odd. Probably won't be trying that again.
- Stir Fry - Excellent. I didn't put anything on it but a little soy sauce while it was cooking. Less than a teaspoon of soy sauce. The actual radishes had good texture and a were not hot or bitter at all. The radish leaves blended nicely and you barely noticed them. The sweet peas and onions offset the bitterness of the leaves. Overall this was very good.
- Strips of leaves over rice (not shown). The leaves softened and didn't notice the spikes. The flavor wasn't too bad the rice (Jasmine) has a sweet nutty flavor that helped smooth out the taste of the leaves. Acceptable, but hey, don't build your restaurant menu around it.
Flank Steak: Want it really moist and tender? Marinate it in lots of garlic, soy sauce and coffee. Yes coffee. I've been doing it that way for a while and the coffee really makes a difference. Try it. Don't over cook it. Let it rest. It will be great.
Conclusion: Not everything is wonderful because you grew it. But it could be.
People are always raving over how great fresh from the garden vegetables are. Well, they can be. But good flavor is not a given.
For instance, the actual radishes were very fibrous. I actually had trouble cutting one of them and threw it away. If I didn't cook them they would not have been very enjoyable. It's great that the greens are edible, since the radish crop looks like it won't be that good. If I get really hungry though it's nice to know there's food value there.
The lettuce was bitter. Not as good as what I could buy. I think my lettuce has had too much sun and the heat has influenced it. It's ready to bolt, although it hasn't yet.
The broccoli, on the other hand, was excellent and had more flavor than store bought. I even chopped up the stems and put them in the stir fry and they were excellent.
So I would say it's great that you can eat the greens, because sometimes the radishes themselves are a disappointment. But to get good flavor you have to grow them right, pick them at the right time and prepare them properly. Don't believe everything you read on the internet, and just because someone says you can do something, it doesn't mean you should do it.
I'd love to get your input on radish greens. Maybe some recipes tested by actual people. Please comment if you have anything to add.