Do you know that if you planted radishes now, they might just be ready to harvest for your Easter or Passover table? These garden jewels take only 4-5 weeks from seed to harvest, and make for a sweet and crispy reward. If you’re wearing a scarf right now as a fashion statement and not to keep your nose from freezing, then it’s time to start radish-planting season.
Radishes are a bright spot in the cabbage family, which tends to be heavily weighted in shades of green — arugula, broccoli, collards, kale…it’s always a thrill to unearth those little garnet bulbs. Radishes are put to good use in my kitchen; I love that you can utilize the entire vegetable — yes, even the leaves! Check out my radish top pesto recipe below.
Look for organic seeds with “No GMO’s” on the label. If you’re going to grow them, they might as well be fantastic. Check out Island Seed and Feed (warning — right now they have baby chicks and baby goats) or online I like these from Seed Savers.
Before we get to cooking radishes, we need to grow them. You can sow radish seeds right into the ground, but they also grow well in pots and window boxes. Here are few of my radish growing tips:
They need full sun, that means more than six hours of direct sun a day.
Radishes are happiest and tastiest if the soil is moist. We hand water our beds 1-2 times each week.
Soil should be loose. If you’re in SB with this adobe clay like soil, break it up and add in some potting mix. Mix with a shovel or trowel and you’re good to go.
Plant 1” apart and 1/2″ deep. Don’t forget to thin out or you’ll end up with funky looking radishes.
Sautéed Radishes with Radish Top Pesto
Serves four as a side
Note: Both radish size and bunch sizes can vary tremendously. If you don’t have a full two-cups of greens, adjust the rest of the ingredients to keep the balance consistent. As for any pesto, if you want the mixture to remain bright and beautiful place the greens in salty boiling water for one minute, then plunge in an ice water bath. Dry well with towels and proceed to make your pesto. If you don’t have the time or inclination, just screw that and place the greens right in the food processor. I won’t tell.
2 bunches of radishes, stems and leaves reserved
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of kosher salt
Radish Top Pesto
Leaves from radishes (aiming for about two cups)
1/3 cup of pistachios
1 large clove of garlic
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Meyer lemon, zest plus 1 teaspoon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
For the pesto:
Remove leaves from stems, discarding the tough stems, wash in cool water and dry well. You should have about two cups of greens.
Slice radishes in half, if they are bigger than a ping-pong ball go ahead and slice into quarters. Set aside.
In a food processor mix radishes tops with pistachios (you can also use walnuts or almonds), garlic clove, lemon zest and juice. Add Parmesan and a pinch of red chile flakes; buzz like crazy until it comes together. Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
On medium-high heat add butter to a pan. Once it melts and gets foamy, add sliced radishes and season with kosher salt. Cook about five minutes, stirring to ensure even cooking. The radishes will turn golden brown on their cut side. Add about two tablespoons of pesto to the pan and serve. Add sprinkle of sea salt to finish.
You can use the rest of the pesto as a dip, dollop on a simple soup vegetable soup or toss with pasta for the kids. Trust me; just add a bit, it’s delicious.