Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: How to prepare a radish for any occasion.
A great man once said, "Radishes are like people. You can find big ones and small ones, sweet ones and bitter ones, white ones, black ones, purple ones and red ones"...and there's where the analogy begins to break down.
Still, these petite roots are almost as diverse as humans. The Cherry Belle, stocked in supermarkets, has bright-red skin and a white interior; the Snow Belle is all-white; the French Breakfast is red and long with a white cap at the end; the Easter Egg is a hybrid of different skin colors. And that's only the beginning.
No matter what type of radish you're eyeing, whether at the super- or farmer's market, be sure to avoid any that are cracked, blemished, soft, or dull. Buy radishes that are smooth, plump, and firm with leaves that are green and fresh. You can find radishes at the store year-round, but they are at their best from April to July.
The first step to enjoying a crunchy, peppery radish is to trim off its leaves. (But don't throw them away! Radish greens sautéed with oil or bacon fat are delicious on their own -- and even better as a garnish.)
Once you've given the radish a haircut, it's time to dig into the bulb. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half, lengthwise.
From here, if you're looking for a substantial amount of radish, halve it lengthwise again to get chunky quarters. Brown them in butter and mint, douse them in anchovy sauce, or enjoy them on their own with butter and salt.
If a recipe calls for sliced radishes, simply use your knife to cut the radish halves into thin semi-circles. These will add texture and color to salads and relishes without overpowering the flavors of the primary ingredients.
If you want to put in a little extra effort to get super-thin radish circles, leave the whole radish bulb intact and take out your mandoline. With an eye on your fingers and a good grip on the radish, slide it over the blade. Thin, fancy radish slices can dress up any salad. Slice the circles into dainty matchsticks when you're feeling particularly ambitious.
After you've got radish preparation down pat, you'll be creating beautiful snacks and salads in no time. How about radish escarole salad with anchovy vinaigrette or radish pecan grain salad? Or if all the chopping is just too overwhelming for today, simply grab a radish and take a bite. No special prep necessary.
Then again, if radishes have gotten you excited, why not take your skills to the next level and learn to carve a radish rose?
What are your favorite ways to use radishes?