It’s almost time to plant radish seeds in my area, and as always, I wonder if this will be the year that I learn to like the root vegetable. I’ve tried it a few different ways, and the only time it’s okay is if it’s completely hidden in a dish. But that’s okay, because I don’t grow radishes for the roots.
Did you know the entire radish plant is edible?
The leaves, flowers, and seed pods can all be eaten raw or cooked. They have a peppery flavor, like a milder version of the root vegetable. If you’re like me and don’t like the root, try the above-ground parts.
Most varieties of radishes have little prickly hairs on the leaves, especially as the plant gets older, so I don’t recommend them for salads. Fortunately, the prickliness disappears when cooked or when the raw leaves are pulverized, like in this radish leaf pesto from Chocolate and Zucchini. The flowers and flower buds, however, make a pretty last minute addition to salads. The blooms wilt quickly, so refrigerate them if you’re not using them immediately.
Radish leaves are tender, especially when young, so cook them in recipes that call for other tender greens (like in place of spinach). You can pick leaves individually throughout the growing season, or you can harvest the leaves all at once when you gather the roots. Separate the stems from the root vegetable during storage, or else the bulbs will continue to draw moisture and nutrients from the leaves.
Now for my favorite part of radish plants: the seed pods. They’re crunchy, like a peppery version of a sugar snap pea. They’re great in salads or as a snack with vegetable dip. I’ve also chopped and added them to cooked dishes like stir-fries, chicken pot pie, and vegetable soups. Much of the peppery taste disappears with longer cooking times, so they add something green to the chicken pot pie and soups but don’t contribute much to the flavor. Seed pods will be ready to pick about 2 months after planting. Depending on the size and texture you want, they can be harvested shortly after they appear or you can wait a week or so until the seeds have developed more.
The stems are technically edible, but I’ve never tried them. I imagine they’re rather fibrous and tough, but they could probably be juiced with other vegetables for a homemade V8.
Have you eaten the above-ground parts of the radish plant, or are you ready to? How would you cook or serve it?