In Defense of the Radish

April 12, 2011

When was the last time you ate a radish?

Be honest.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Maybe since, like, childhood?

Last Spring, I served a plate of plump, scarlet radishes with a slab of unsalted butter and a dish of cracked sea salt as an appetizer. People were dumbfounded.


“I can’t even tell you the last time I ate a radish.”

“I never even think about radishes.”

“What’s with the butter?”

I explained that the French eat radishes this way; dunk the radish in some lovely butter, sprinkle on a little salt, and eat.  Sometimes the French slice a crisp baguette, smear on a healthy layer of butter and top with thin slices of radish and a dusting of salt–and it’s great served that way–but I was too lazy to bother with the bread.

Yes, I am often guilty of being a lazy hostess. So stone me.

I guess I’m also an inconsiderate hostess, because I didn’t serve anything else for an appetizer, so my hungry guests didn’t have any option but to try the radishes. Like a schoolyard bully, I stood, arms crossed, staring them down, daring them to reject the radishes.

“What? You’re afraid of something that’s teeny and pink, for Chrissakes?”

Much to my satisfaction, my terrorized guests consumed the radishes and declared them a delicious surprise.

If the idea of a radish gives you a flashback to a large, woody, overly pungent, bulbous thing, then I’m betting you faced off with a winter radish. An old, overgrown winter radish. And if that’s the case, I don’t question your trauma at all. Those radishes are, indeed, a little frightening.

Radishes are best in spring and summer, when they’re tiny, crisp, mildly tangy bundles of joy. Truly. I know you’re suspicious, but trust me on this one. They add beautiful color and a little zing to a dish.

This dish, specifically. This recipe is spring on a plate. It makes a delightful side to your favorite grilled meat or, if paired with a bit of bauguette, a lovely vegetarian lunch.

Come on. I dare you.

Pea and Radish Salad with Goat Cheese

serves 4

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit magazine


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon hazelnut or walnut oil

1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (you can substitute 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar if you wish)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1 cup frozen peas (or you can use fresh if you can find them)

1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame

1 cup sugar snap peas, stringed

1 1/2 cups butter lettuce or baby spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup radishes, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 (6-ounce) package fresh goat cheese, crumbled (crumble it yourself rather than buying the pre-crumbled kind; it makes a difference)

1/4 cup toasted walnuts or hazlenuts (depending on the oil you used in the dressing), coarsely chopped

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice; place radishes in ice bath and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook frozen peas 1-2 minutes (4 minutes for fresh shelled peas); remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath with the radishes. Cook edamame in the same boiling water for 4 minutes; strain and add to the ice bath. Add snap peas and cook for 1 minute; remove and place in ice bath.  Stir vegetables until cool. Drain the cooled vegetables thoroughly and transfer to a large salad bowl.

Add torn butter lettuce/spinach to salad bowl and toss with dressing. Add crumbled goat cheese and toasted nuts and toss lightly again. Serve.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

faemom April 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I’ll admit it. I love radishes, which is weird because I HATE other bitter things. The sight of the salad made me so excited! Hell, I want to go get some radishes and some good bread. And I would right now if there weren’t three little ones sleeping or if the French bakery was open at 11:30pm.


Biz April 15, 2011 at 8:55 am

I actually love radishes, so you had me at both radish and goat cheese! Mmmm…goat cheese – the best cheese out there! Thanks for the idea – I don’t buy them that often because no one likes them but me – but I think I’ll put some in my cart this weekend! :D


Christine @ Coffees & Commutes April 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Radishes were a staple in my house growing up. Always sitting bathing in an ice cold container of water in our fridge. My dad at them like they were candy. I never acquired a taste for them. I don’t think I’ve every bought them.


Kat Odell April 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

mmm- goat cheese- I might have to go shopping.
Here, when eating authentic tacos, we use radishes and cabbage.


grace April 16, 2011 at 11:53 pm

toasted nuts, tangy cheese, and crunchy, underappreciated radish–this is a winning salad indeed!


rebecca @ altared spaces April 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm

The pink doesn’t fool me. I hate them.


Beka April 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm

That salad looks scrumptious! And I am going to have to try my radishes French style with butter and sea salt. I have a whole bunch sitting on my counter. I’ve just been nibbling on them over the past week. Yum. Cheap and crunchy with a kick.


camilla April 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Hi Kitch- it has been sooo long and you have been rocketing on as per usual! Your radish salad looks and sounds fabulous!! I love radishes, so I’ll be on to this like a bad rash.

SO good to read you again x


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