Echoes of the Garden


When the Bite Isn’t Pepper

The radish has a very long history in the kitchen. Its characteristic bite can be played up or down, depending on your taste and how you prepare it. Its use was first documented in the third century BCE and it was probably around before that. In the manuscript Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, written in the 4th or 5th century CE, Apicius suggests the following combination:


Slice your radishes thinly. Sprinkle with salt. Cover in vinegar. Add pepper overall.

You may use whatever type of vinegar you prefer, although red wine vinegar would probably be most authentic.

A lovely Medieval recipe from the book Forme of Cury can be found here. This recipe shows just how versatile the radish is in its ability to pair with other vegetables and, yes, fruits.

The physical trail of the radish leads us to an origin in the Middle East. This recipe lets us follow its path back to its roots (oo. sorry about that). 

So does this one. Both of these recipes are for cooling salads, perhaps not surprising considering the heat of a midsummer afternoon in these regions.

Linnaeus believed the radish came from China. This recipe for a delicious porridge lets us connect with its history there.  And just to prove that you can dress the radish up and take it to a feast- give this recipe a try!

Radishes are relative newcomers to Japan but found a warm welcome there as well.  This Rice and Radish Porridge is just the ticket on a cool afternoon.

Radishes pickle very nicely. During the summer months I keep a dill crock going in the pantry and I drop any extra radishes I have in to make radish pickles. Personally, I like them at the half-sour stage but you can let them get as sour as you'd like. Pickled radish is a different dish, easy to make and always welcome on a hearty sandwich. Try them as a topping on homemade pizza. Here's a nice pickled radish recipe from China.

This recipe for Radish Poriyal from India just sounds good to me. I've never made it and I'm not likely to, but I'm going to pass it along in case any of you want to try it and let me know how it is.

A nice dish of Roasted Radishes and Radish Greens is far closer to the type of cooking I'm likely to do. I love roasted vegetables and in the spring when the crop is abundant this is a good way to use them up. All leftover vegetables in my house end up a stew the next day anyway and this recipe positively begs you to make extra for tomorrow's stewpot.

Speaking of greens – don't let them go to waste! They have a bit of bite that will enliven any greens dish. Don't be afraid to substitute them for half of the spinach in any recipe you're making. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started. 

And if you've had a rough day and need a bit of comfort food right now, here's my favorite way to have radishes- make yourself a scrambled egg mess! Saute sliced radishes in butter. While they're cooking, beat two eggs into a bowl with a little milk or cream, add them to the radishes and scramble until done to your preference. Add salt and pepper and dump on a slice of toast. Enjoy!

As you can see, radishes are a vegetable not to be taken lightly! Did I forget anything? How do you use your radishes in the kitchen? Share you recipes in the comments below. I'd love to try them!

Tomorrow's Knowings of the Leech post will explore how the Practitioners of the Art of the Physician put the radish to work.

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The information and recipes contained on this site are presented for intellectual and historical interest only. If you are looking for medical advice, please consult with a licensed physician. If you choose to try any recipe for the sake of adventure or curiosity, you do so at your own risk.

About Me

About Me

My interest in plants started young. While most of my friends were playing with Barbie or dreaming of horses, I was out in the fields of our farm creating imaginary villages and caching collected seeds, roots and herbs against winter need. When I discovered the library and field guides, I realized that I had found my passion- the interaction between plants and people. While my caching habits have switched to saving more useful plants, some things don’t change. I still …
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