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Radishes More Than Just A Garnish


Too many people think of radishes as decorations. Yes, you can create radish roses, fans and other garnishes for the buffet table, but radishes can also be pickled, sauteed, turned into a hot and spicy dip and used in soups.


Radishes are one of the earliest spring crops, and one of the fastest to grow to a usable size. The small round radish varieties take only 28 to 35 days from seed; the long, carrot-like varieties can take 60 days to mature.  On top of that, radish plants take very little room in the garden.  A decent radish crop can be grown in a large flower pot or small raised bed.


Hot weather makes for hot radishes, so if a strong, peppery flavor isn't pleasing, harvest the radish crop before temperatures consistently top 80 degrees.  Luckily, roasting, steaming or sauteeing reduces the heat in radishes, so if summer's heat has turned your radishes into fire hazards, try using one of these methods to keep them palatable. 


To use radishes in cooking, first remove the stringy tap root and slice off the stem end. Wash thoroughly and scrub lightly with a vegetable brush.  For roasting, toss the prepared roots in olive oil, season with salt and any other favorite flavors, and place on a cookie sheet or small roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven.  Roasted radishes can be embellished further by adding a tablespoon of soy sauce and some chopped green onions or scallions and returning to the oven for another five minutes.


Steam radishes by placing in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water and cooking for 8 to 12 minutes, until just tender.  Cover with melted butter, salt, and other seasonings to taste. Add lemon juice or vinegar for a tangy, tasty side dish.


Radish roots can be finely chopped and mixed with butter or mayonnaise for use as a sandwich spread. Try a helping of radish butter the next time you eat a cold roast beef or pork tenderloin sandwich.


Finally, for a red, white and blue appetizer just made for July 4th celebrations, dice red radishes (skin on) and mix with cream cheese, sour cream and crumbled bleu cheese. Serve as a spread with crackers or bread rounds. This zingy concoction offers a nice balance to barbeques or grilled meat.


Rethink the role radishes play in your kitchen and your garden. These little garden gems offer flavor, color and texture during most of the growing season at an affordable price.

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