Radishes 101 – The Basics
Radishes are root vegetables that are members of the Brassica (cruciferous) family, which makes them related to mustard greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and turnips. They have light-colored, crunchy flesh, with skin colors that vary from red, black, white, yellow, green, pink, to purple. Radishes can vary in shape from short and round (like the common red round globe radish that many people are familiar with) to long and narrow (like the daikon radish that resembles a carrot or parsnip). Watermelon radishes have a pale green skin with a pink interior. The flavor of radishes is somewhat spicy with a peppery taste. The light-skinned varieties tend to have a milder flavor than the darker-skinned varieties. The most common variety of radish grown in the United States are round, bright reddish/pink bulbs (also called globes), that vary in size. They have little roots at the bottom and leafy green tops. Both the bulb and the green tops are edible. Radishes are most often eaten raw, but can also be enjoyed cooked.
Radishes are believed to be native to Southeast Asia or Central Asia. About 2,500 years ago, ancient Greeks and Romans used radishes for food and medicinal purposes.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, potassium, fiber, folate, manganese, copper, and magnesium. They also contain some pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, and even some protein. They have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Radishes contain a lot of water, which makes them a natural diuretic. A half-cup serving of sliced radishes has only 12 calories. There is a lot to be said for radishes!
Antifungal Properties. Radishes contain an antifungal protein that was found to cause cell death of Candida albicans, a common fungus normally found in humans. When Candida albicans overgrows, it may cause vaginal yeast infections, oral yeast infections (thrush) and invasive candidiasis.
Antioxidants. Radishes are a good source of antioxidants and phenolic compounds. They supply a lot of Vitamin C, which acts as an important antioxidant in the body, protecting cells from free radical damage.
Reduced Risk for Diabetes. Radishes contain compounds (such as glucosinolate and isothiocyanate) that can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Radishes enhance the body’s production of adiponectin, a hormone that can help to protect against insulin resistance. They also contain coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that helps deter the onset of diabetes.
Enhanced Liver Function. Radishes contain compounds that help the liver detoxify and heal damage. Those same compounds also help the kidneys to flush out toxins. So, if you are looking for foods that can help to detoxify the body, eat more radishes!
Cardiovascular Health. Radishes are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. These nutrients work together to help reduce high blood pressure, which would in turn, reduce your risk for heart disease. Radishes are also a good source of natural nitrates that improve blood flow.
Anticancer Properties. Since radishes are members of the Brassica (cruciferous) plant family, including them in your diet on a regular basis may help to prevent cancer. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that are broken down into isothiocyanates when combined with water. These compounds help remove cancer-causing substances from the body, preventing tumor development.
How to Select Radishes
Look for firm, smooth, brightly colored radishes that are free of cracks or blemishes. If the green tops are still attached, look for ones with crisp, vibrant greens. Avoid those that have wilted greens attached.
How to Store Radishes
If you purchased radishes with the green tops attached, remove the greens before storing them. This will help preserve both the radishes and greens. If left attached, the greens will pull moisture out of the radishes, which will cause them to age fast.
If you plan to eat the greens, store them in a damp paper towel within a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. The greens can be washed, then added to a tossed salad or a sandwich, made into a pesto, or sautéed. For best quality, use them within a few days.
Store unwashed radish globes in a plastic bag or airtight container within the refrigerator. To help them retain moisture, line the bottom of the bag or container with a slightly damp paper towel. Store them in the refrigerator and use within a couple weeks.
Radish bulbs may also be washed and trimmed and placed in a mason jar that has a lid. Fill the jar with water, tighten the lid, and store it in the refrigerator. Storing them in water will help to reduce their pungency. Radishes stored like this will remain crisp for about five to eight days.
How to Prepare Radishes
When you’re ready to use your radishes, simply give them a good wash and trim off any roots along with the stem end, if desired. Cut, slice, or leave them whole, as needed. They do not need to be peeled. Wash your radish greens well before using them, and serve them in a salad or cook them as you would any tender leafy green.
Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Radishes
* Although we typically eat radishes raw, they can also be braised, roasted, sautéed, shaved into noodles, and steamed.
* Try roasted radishes. The caramelization makes them sweeter. Remove the leaves and cut the bulbs in half or in slices. Roast at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
* 10 to 14 radishes will yield about 1-1/2 cups sliced.
* Cooking a radish dulls the spicy, pungent flavor and brings out an earthy, sweet flavor.
* Enjoy some radishes along with other veggies and your favorite dip.
* Try adding thin radish slices to sandwiches.
* Top a steak or burger with grilled radish slices.
* Pickle radishes like you would cucumbers.
* Try adding chopped radishes to tacos for some added zest.
* Try adding sliced radishes to potato, tuna, or chicken salad.
* Add some grated radishes to your favorite slaw.
* Try making a spicy dip by pulsing ½ cup of Greek yogurt, ¼ cup chopped radishes, one minced garlic clove, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in a food processor until smooth.
* Try sautéing radish greens with garlic in a small amount of olive oil. They can also be added in with other greens when cooked this same way.
* If you find that your radishes have gotten soft (from dehydration), they can be freshened back up by placing them in a bowl of ice-cold water for about 30 minutes.
* Try a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and onions, tossed with finely chopped fresh mint, some olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.
* Try another salad with a bed of arugula, topped with orange slices, chopped walnuts, and thinly sliced radishes. Top with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.
* Try a side dish of grated carrots and radishes topped with a sweet-and-sour dressing.
* When cooking radishes, they are best when cooked to a crisp-tender to tender, but not over cooked to be point of being mushy.
* Add sliced radishes to a stir-fry at the last minute, so they don’t get overcooked.
* Radishes don’t have to be peeled. However, a lot of the spiciness is in the peel. So, if you want a milder tasting radish, peel it first. This is especially true with black radishes.
* One pound of radishes is about 4 cups sliced.
* Try a nice side-dish of sautéed radishes, spinach, and sliced red onions.
* Add grated radishes to a pasta salad.
Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Radishes
Basil, capers, cayenne, celery salt, chervil, chives, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, thyme
Foods That Go Well with Radishes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. fava, green, white), chickpeas, crab, edamame, eggs (esp. hard-boiled), fish, lentils, pecans, pistachios, pork, sesame seeds, snow peas, sugar snap peas, tofu
Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fennel, greens (esp. salad), lettuce, mushrooms, onions, radish sprouts, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, turnips, watercress
Fruits: Avocados, lemon, lime, olives, oranges, pears
Grains and Grain Products: Bread, farro, millet, rice, whole grains (in general)
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e., blue, cream, dry Jack, feta, goat, Gouda, Gruyère, Parmesan, ricotta), cream, yogurt
Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive, pistachio, sesame, walnut), salad dressings, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar (i.e., cider, rice wine, white wine)
Radishes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
European cuisines (i.e., French, German), hummus, salad dressings, salads (i.e., bean, grain, green, potato, radish, vegetable), soups (i.e., gazpacho, vegetable), spring rolls (i.e., Vietnamese)
Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Radishes
Add radishes to any of the following combinations…
Avocados + Lettuce
Bread + Butter + Salt
Cabbage + Celery Salt + Onions
Chives + Cream Cheese + Sour Cream
Cilantro + Lime + Olive Oil
Cucumbers + Dill
Cucumbers + Lettuce + Mustard
Dill + Salt + Vinegar + Yogurt
Escarole + Lemon + Orange
Garlic + Yogurt
Lemon + Pistachios
Mint + Orange
Rice Wine Vinegar + Sesame Oil + Soy Sauce
Easy Roasted Radishes https://cleananddelicious.com/easy-roasted-radishes/#recipe
Radish Salad https://cleananddelicious.com/radish-salad/#recipe
Spicy Pickled Radishes https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/spicy-pickled-radishes/
Roasted Buddha Bowl https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/recipe-roasted-buddha-bowl/
Chive Mustard Roasted Radishes https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/chive-mustard-roasted-radishes/
Watermelon, Radish, and Feta Salad https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetable-recipes/watermelon-radish-feta-salad/
Braised Radishes with Mint and Red Onion https://www.thekitchn.com/weekend-cooking-braised-radish-49130#post-recipe-10696
How to Make Easy Kimchi at Home https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-easy-kimchi-at-home-189390#post-recipe-8608
Pretty-In-Pink Pickled Radishes https://www.thekitchn.com/prettyinpink-pickled-radishes-119588
Pickled Carrots, Green Tomatoes and Watermelon Radishes https://www.thekitchn.com/nick-ballas-brined-pickle-platter-168780
Kale Salad with Quick Pickled Watermelon Radish https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-kale-salad-with-quick-pickled-radishes-and-pumpkin-seeds-166488
Roasted Potatoes, Radishes, and Fennel with Lemon Brown Butter Sauce https://www.thekitchn.com/side-dish-recipe-roasted-potatoes-fennel-radish-with-lemon-brown-butter-sauce-recipes-from-the-kitchn-189122
Sauteed Radishes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/232669/sauteed-radishes/
Roasted Radishes https://producemadesimple.ca/roasted-radishes/
47 Radish Recipes That Put the Rad Back in Radish https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/radish-recipes
Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.