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.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

melissa@IWasBornToCook April 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I JUST bought a bag of radishes last week and have been cutting them up for our salad each night. Before that, it had been a while since I’d eaten them! I love them…I just always forget about them! Your dish looks delicious!


Winn April 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

omg that sounds good! I used to eat radishes, as a kid, by soaking them in my milk, then eating them and drinking the milk… which by then was deliciously mildly flavored with… radish!


TKW April 13, 2011 at 5:21 am

Winn, that sounds almost as bizarre as my father’s tomato/sauerkraut juice drink!


Heather April 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Love, Love, Love the radish. Not very close buddies with the Goat cheese…


TKW April 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

Feta would work really well here, too! :)


Cheryl @ Mommypants April 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm


I have never, in my life, eaten a radish.

They scare me with their pretty pinkness.

Beets tried to fool me into trying them with their beautiful color.

My tastebuds still won’t speak to me after that vile affront.


TKW April 13, 2011 at 5:24 am

Cheryl, you are right. Beets are the devil’s instrument.


Stacia April 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

My daughter has spent the last two weeks wearing bunny ears, declaring she is a rabbit, and requesting carrots and lettuce for every meal. Perhaps now is the time to introduce the radish. She just might eat it, being, you know, a bunny and all.


TKW April 13, 2011 at 5:25 am

You are an evil genius, Stacia.


Paula (Salad in a Jar) April 13, 2011 at 2:07 am

Ok, ok, ok. Maybe I’ll give radishes another chance. You talked me in to it.


From Belgium April 13, 2011 at 5:00 am

You cannot live in France (or Belgium for that matter) without liking radishes. I recently planted them in the garden and can’t wait for the first one to be sliced, spread on some toasted bread with goat cheese and eat it!


Abby April 13, 2011 at 5:26 am

Before last summer, I had only had a radish or two when they were the only things left on a veggie tray. However, they were cheap, so I gave them a shot last summer and threw them in my ginormous 100 lbs salads I crave when it’s hot. Verdict? Spicy, but not bad. I don’t like dressing but use plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese as the “dressing,” and it cuts the peppery flavor of the radish nicely. Good crunch.

P.S. You could dip a shingle in butter and it would be delicious. Butter is best.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon April 13, 2011 at 5:27 am

Kitch, have you been peeking into my crisper again? After a nearly 40 year mistrust of the radish, I have decided to give them a try. They will be braised and glazed. So maybe it’s really less about the radish and more about the butter?


TKW April 13, 2011 at 7:55 am

Abby and Wendi, you do have a point. Butter improves everything. Well, except maybe fennel. Nothing can save fennel.


ayala April 13, 2011 at 5:37 am

My dad used to love radishes. I made a salad last night that came from a mixed bag of vegetables and my husband was so excited to find a single radish in it. I never knew that he liked them this much :)


Erica@PLRH April 13, 2011 at 5:51 am

I like radishes and have always put them in salads until I found out that they make my husband extremely gassy in a foul-smelling way. But the idea of them on bread with butter and salt… mmm… I might just have to buy some again. :)


Jennifer April 13, 2011 at 5:56 am

I don’t think that I’ve ever eaten a radish. My mom used to eat them on her salad, but they do nasty things to her tummy so I don’t think she eats them anymore. Maybe that is where my fear lies. I don’t like it when nasty things happen to my tummy.


Tiffany April 13, 2011 at 6:48 am

I’m trying both…the appetizer and the salad!


Justine April 13, 2011 at 7:06 am

I love radish and the dish you have here looks tasty AND beautiful. Perfect spring food porn. I enjoy mine sliced thinly in a sandwich with cream cheese, chopped fresh mint and sea salt. Divine in its simplicity. That’s the loveliness of radish isn’t it?


dawn April 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

My husband and I planted a few rows of radishes this past weekend (MN). It is always the first seed that goes in the ground. After years of trial and error, we’ve foung THE PERFECT SEED – we like a radish with a sharp “bite” to it – “spicey” as my daughter would say.
My mom used to eat a radish sandwich, much as you described, on bread with butter.

But then we also plant rutabagas :) so, a radish?? Mere staple!


TKW April 13, 2011 at 7:56 am


How the hell do you cook the rutabaga?


tasteofbeirut April 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

I admire you for serving your guests radishes without any bread! I love radishes, even eat the tops as a pesto or a soup or in a salad. Radishes are a great overlooked nutritious little thing and if you get the jumbo purple ones from Korea, quite a good investment too~


elizabeth April 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

Ever since we made enchiladas that called for radishes as a garnish, I’ve fallen back in love with them–crispy and crunchy with just a bit of bite. I’m going to have to try the radishes and butter when it gets really hot out.


Gale April 13, 2011 at 7:55 am

I love radishes. I love to dunk them in bleu cheese salad dressing, but the butter/sea salt combination sounds even better. Can’t wait to try this.


Belinda April 13, 2011 at 8:43 am

Ha! I just ate some yesterday and will have more with my lunch today! They’re delicious. Picked some up from Whole Foods for $1/bunch. I eat mine as is; too lazy to dunk them in anything.

This salad looks gorgeous. Will try it!


BigLittleWolf April 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

Oh, the poor much maligned radish! (You put a whole new spin… or would it be bunny hop (?) on the this little character.)



Jena April 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

I’ve never bought or prepared a radish before in my life. However, your description of how the French do it almost has me convinced. (Butter and salt? Love those things.)


Dana April 13, 2011 at 10:28 am

I’d have been pleased as punch with those as an appetizer. It’s the perfect way to eat a radish.


The Curious Cat April 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

This sounds delicious! Bookmarking! I love radishes! I eat them as a snack – or on a piece of cracker with some cream cheese! Yum! Feel back in love with them a year or so ago – great summer treat as so watery and refreshing…though mind you don’t get a mega pungent one – can make your eyes water! xxx


Futureblackmail April 13, 2011 at 11:20 am

I have never eaten a radish. Ever.

I may try them on bread though. I’m a carb girl. :)


Katybeth April 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

Your suppose to eat radishes? Who knew. I thought they were just colorful rose garnishes. Really. Ok. I am up for the challenge. I will eat a radishe-why is the recipe so looong. Don’t you have a short radish recipe? Bon Appetite? I don’t have walnut oil-juice a walnut? I do have a little goat cheese and some frozen edamame from Cosco?? Oh wait-I just looked again–Frozen edamame will work. Whew. I am exhausted. To heck with Bon Appetite! How did you make those radishes for those guests, again?— Just salt, butter, uncooked? I would even add bread. I love bread.
Off to buy a bag of radishes. :-)


Julie April 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

That salad looks really good, actually! I’ll have to try it. My husband makes an awesome salsa with radishes, and that changed my mind about them. So yummy. :)


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I love the idea of radishes sliced on a baguette.

…I love the idea of anything on a baguette.


Phoo-d April 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The last time I ate a radish it was at your house! Beautiful styling on the salad by the way!


TKW April 14, 2011 at 5:54 am

I wish you were at my house now, eating radishes.


Mary Lee April 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

One of my earliest memories of food is that the first time I tasted a radish, I liked it (sprinkled with salt) so much that I took the bowlful and a cup of salt out on the front porch and ate until I barfed.

That left only peanut butter and banana sandwiches on my list of stuff worth eating back then.

I wonder if I’m ready for another radish, but this would be a lovely way to try. I notice that you didn’t list salt as one of the primary ingredients. :)


TKW April 14, 2011 at 5:53 am

Mary Lee,

You binged on radishes? That’s hilarious! Not for you, though…


Rocky Mountain Woman April 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I adore radishes! I eat them with butter on bread and now I eat them in this amazing salad!


Shelley April 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

From my childhood, I remember radishes as something that had a BITE. I avoided them. But then I read that one could ROAST them, so I tried it and that was good. And I tried them raw and their bite wasn’t that bad. But they are not cheap here, so I don’t buy them, but I’m not scared of them anymore so that’s progress.


Erin April 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I actually never had radishes as a kid, and first tried them last year when we got some in our CSA box. The peppery flavor is a little much for me, but I like them sliced up. I made sandwiches last summer with rosemary bread, radishes, butter, and salt, and they were amazing! This salad sounds fantastic… so fresh and spring-like!


SuziCate April 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I often add radishes to toss salads because they add a bite, a nice zip! I’ve never had them any other way though.


Tom B. Taker April 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I love radishes. I often will munch down a whole bunch. With just a sprinkle of salt? Delicious!

I recently heard about some wacky new trend where they are sauted. Any truth to this? If so, you can bet I’ll be there to check it out. :)


TKW April 14, 2011 at 5:55 am

Tom, you are correct! Lots of people are now sauteeing, braising and roasting radishes. I’m intrigued but a little afraid.


ck April 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Hmmm…butter and salt? Somehow I think I’d try anything dipped in butter and sprinkled with salt. Though I am disappointed that you forgot the bread. WHO FORGETS THE BREAD?


Melissa April 13, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Ew. That’s all I have. Radishes. Ew. :) I can’t even pretend like I might try them.


jc April 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I have never eaten a radish and plan on keeping it that way. *runs*

Winn’s radishmilkshake is giving me the skeevies. It’s looking at me funny. *pulls blanket over head*


Nancy C April 14, 2011 at 3:49 am

You got me with the goat cheese. That magic elixer makes everything wonderful. I will try this. For you.

Also, your writing at Mommypants was amazing. Your talent inspires me.


TKW April 14, 2011 at 5:56 am

Awww. Thank you, Nancy.


Meister @ The Nervous Cook April 14, 2011 at 6:16 am

This is too funny — I love radishes, and my squeeze hates them. The last time I bought a bunch at the farmers market, I ended up eating them all — raw, salted — in one sitting. Which, for the record, really does a number on a gal’s stomach, ugggh.

It sounds like you’re 100% my type of hostess, though!


lifeintheboomerlane April 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

I’m not a fan if radishes, but that is one gorgeous salad.


Lana April 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

Young Bibb lettuce with green onions and thinly sliced radishes, dressed with a simple vinaigrette was the harbinger of spring when I was growing up in Serbia. We would often have, as a crunchy side, small radishes that we would dip in salt (but no butter – I feel cheated now!)
My husband refused for years to buy radishes, trying to convince me that every time he planted or bought them, he had to move (wha?)
Now we WANT to move, and radishes are a constant in our fridge:) Our youngest just loves them.
I like your salad – another great way to use radishes:) And I LOVE goat cheese!


Yvette April 14, 2011 at 8:36 am

Your salad looks wonderful – toasted walnuts, crumbled goat cheese, and radishes…sound heavenly!

I love radishes!!! I had some slices last night with our dinner. My kids think they are spicy and do not like them and have banned me from planting them in our garden this year. LOL! Radishes are a popular garnish with Mexican dishes, kinda like avocado slices and cilantro. All ingredients I can’t live without. Yum!


Ink April 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

*hands over ears*
Noooooooooo! I can’t! Radishes are scary!


Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac April 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I am kinda “eh” about the radish (and yeah, I can’t remember the last time I had one on purpose)…but this dish looks so tasty that I’ll definitely try it out!


Cathy April 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I fear the radish.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri April 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I may be your only commenter that eats radishes on a regular basis. We grew up eating radishes with an Indian dish called kitchri (lentils and rice dish). I will definitely check out the salad. Especially since I am already a fan of the radish.


Jane April 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I thought I hated radishes…that is, until we grew them in our garden and I saw my dad eating them fresh out of the ground. I got up enough nerve and realized I loved them. You are so right. Nothing like fresh, spring radishes.


Dawn April 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Wait a minute…radishes don’t need defending…they are WONDERFUL. I eat a couple every day at work for lunch and they are one of my favorite things to munch on! Thanks for what looks like a great recipe!


Maria April 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Ahh! Radishes! We used to have them with salt, olive oil and a bit of vinegar when they are in season. My dad liked them when they had a bit of zing to them. Alas, I am the only radish eater in this house…I just might have to make this for just me…Beautiful pictures!


Foodiewife April 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

i’ve been eying radishes, trying to build up the courage to serve them again. you’re right. I haven’t had these since my childhood. Mom served the with iceberg lettuce and Wishbone salad dressing. That’s probably why I don’t associate deliciousness with them. OK, I’ll try them. I’m convinced. Too funny!


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