Radishes 101: How to Identify and Use All the Springtime Varieties
Typically, one of the first produce items you're likely to find at your springtime farmer's market are bunches of cheery pink radishes. With a slew of different varieties, it's important to know what to look for when shopping for these crunchy root veggies. Whether you prefer to chop them up and add them to a fresh salad, or eat them plain with a homemade dip, radishes make for a delightful, crisp addition to all sorts of meals. Here's everything you need to know to get started.
Spring has finally arrived and we all know that the first produce item that's sure to hit your local farmers’ market in full force (and not to mention, your Instagram feed) is radishes. However, we wouldn’t be doing this crisp, little root vegetables justice if we didn’t distinguish all the different varieties. Coming in a slew of different shapes, sizes, textures, tastes, and colors, radishes are some of the most varied (and uniquely beautiful) vegetables available at your local markets and grocery stores right now. In the weeks to come, these are the varieties you'll want to be on the lookout for.
French Breakfast Radish
One of the more common varities, this radish is distinguishable by its oblong shape and two-toned coloration (hot pink/magenta with a white tip), and is by no means reserved only for people in France to eat in the morning hours. In fact, a great snacking radish, the French breakfast radish is a one-biter known for its mild flavor, hearty crunch, and its perfect shape for dipping (like, in salted, cultured butter!). So while it's clearly a great option for a simple snack board, this radish is likewise true to its name... a truly lovely guest to have at breakfast. Slide a handful of vertically halved FB radishes atop a slice of buttered toast and you're all set.
Cherry Belle Radish
This is most likely what comes to mind when you think of a radish in the generic sense, as it is what you'll typically find year-round in the grocery store. Cherry belle radishes are usually about the size of a ping-pong ball, and they have a white, fleshy interior with a bright pinkish-red exterior. They're excellent sliced thin for salads and sandwiches, and are also delicious roasted, sauteed, or pickled.
Easter Egg Radish
While these are not technically a distinct radish variety, they’re too adorable (and seasonally appropriate) not to point out. Simply a bunch of various colored radishes, these bunches vary from pinks and purples to reds and whites. If you're pulling together a crudite platter or working on an au naturale centerpiece for you Easter table, a bunch of these beauties will provide a welcome splash of vibrant color. They're delicious enjoyed as you would cherry belle radishes.
Plum Purple Radish
Boasting a bright white flesh and a deep, rich purple skin, these radishes are certainly an eye-catching ingredient. Falling on the sweeter, milder side of radish flavor spectrum, if you can get your hands on these at your local farmers’ markets, there’s plenty you can do with them. Toss them in a salad for a delightfully sweet crunch.
Surrounded by a light white or pale green exterior and bright pink interior, this variety is quite the eye candy. Each bite offers a slightly peppery crunch that’s ideal for snacking, roasting, braising, and pickling.
Regardless of which variety you choose, these fun springtime veggies are great for entertaining, or are just as yummy as a light, crunchy snack to have on hand. Keep a close eye out at your local farmers’ market for all the different varieties, and be sure to grab a bunch with healthy-looking greens if you can—just consider those a delicious bonus. If your radish greens look good (as in, they're not wilting or full of holes), do yourself a favor and do not toss them... they can be sauteed with a little olive oil, fresh garlic, and a glug of wine for a phenomenal side dish or blended into a tasty on pesto.