I’ve fallen in love with radishes. Again.
I had almost forgotten how much I liked to crunch on it and how peppery the taste is on my tongue. And how about the names: French breakfast, Easter egg, big reds and watermelon. They come in festive colors, too, like pinks, whites, purples, blacks, reds, Daikon and white tipped. They’re also very nutritious and always available at the Harbor Area Farmers Market in the Marina, Wednesday at the Marine Stadium Farmers Market and Saturday at the Peter’s Landing market in Sunset Beach.
The radish’s roots trace to China and Egypt but get their name from the Greek word for quickly appearing. They’re the most quickly harvested vegetable (usually in about four weeks) and according to wisegeek.com, radishes, especially the common radish, raphanus sativus, is often grown as a natural insect repellent to protect other crops.
Radishes are yet another member of the large family of crucifers such as mustards, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Don’t forget, the tops or greens of radishes are also edible.
My wife and kids don’t know it, but I’ve been sneaking radishes into a lot of what we eat lately, from salads to omelets to gazpacho to guacamole. But leave it to the French: For years, they have eaten whole radishes dipped in butter as a snack. According to my friends Jade and Fabrice Henry, the radish is often scored with an X at the bottom then dipped into room-temperature unsalted butter and finished with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Try this recipe: http://myvegetableblog.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/radish-sandwiches-a-little-taste-of-france-in-my-cubicle/ Viva la radish sandwich!
By the way, Long Beach (Mississippi, not us!) used to be the U.S. radish capital, but now it is McClure, Ohio.
Look for firm radishes without blemishes and splits in them. To keep radishes fresh, remove the green tops and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Use within a few days of purchasing. But don’t toss those greens! You can make a radish greens soup like this: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1848,150164-251201,00.html
Harbor Area Farmers Market (Long Beach Southeast). Alamitos Bay Marina, on East Marina Drive, one-quarter mile south of East Second Street, just west of Pacific Coast Highway. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (though some vendors are ready to sell at 7 a.m.). www.goodveg.org.