Braised Radishes

Braised radishes make an excellent side dish.

When’s the last time that you absolutely fell in love with a vegetable? Better yet, can you recall a time that you saw an old acquaintance in a totally new light and felt your heart unexpectedly flutter? Well, if all goes well, I am about to send you on a journey to that mysterious and magical place of pulse-racing vegetable attraction. Um, you remember my friend Radish, right?

Leaving taste aside for the moment, there are so many great things to say about radishes:

  • They are incredibly easy to grow.
  • They grow fast. Even when you think there’s not enough time to plant before winter, radishes can pop up and surprise you. We grow them under covers and garden fabric to prevent frost damage.
  • You can use them to draw flea beetles from your tender brassicas while still harvesting their undamaged bulbs.

Eventually, though, we have to get down to that one unavoidable fact: Not everyone appreciates the sharp and spicy taste of a radish. I am one of those people who finds the pungency of radishes to be so overwhelming that I can only enjoy them in teensy amounts. Mincing and sprinkling them on tacos would get me through a proper bunch in about 3 months.

And then I discovered braising and everything changed. Braising uses moderate heat and a small amount of liquid to transform tough foods into tender makeovers of themselves. Radishes become a mellow, sensual, sedate pink on my plate. Their flavor transforms to that of Brussels sprouts without all that fussy growing and tedious cleaning.

Braised Radishes

Ingredients for braised radishes

Ingredients for braised radishes

  • 1 lb. radishes (two bunches)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup broth (or white wine or water)

In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the radishes, butter and broth.

With the pot uncovered, bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, replace the lid and cook for 15 minutes, until radishes are tender.

Remove the lid and boil off any excess liquid.

Red radishes turn pink after braising

Red radishes turn pink after braising.

Variation: Feel free to add herbs, cream, or a splash of vinegar to finish the dish.

Each season seems to bring more variety to market; soon enough you’ll be braising watermelon radishes and black radishes alongside your winter roasts.