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The under-rated radish

The under-rated radish


Rather like beetroot, radishes were not really in favour in the Orange household. Until recently, I’m not sure that I’d ever deliberately bought radishes. That all changed this weekend. Radish are available – in season, of course – everywhere in France, on the markets, in all the supermarkets and growing in the locals’ potagers. So, I can only conclude that the locals like them, probably for the pretty assiette known as salad composée. An assortment of carefully arranged vegetable, drizzled with vinaigrette. I’m not against radishes, in fact, I have fond childhood memories of my Granny’s allotment radishes, served whole with a heap of salt on the side of the plate.

According to Wiki, a wide variety of radishes are grown worldwide, and almost always served as a raw salad vegetable. They’re from the brassicaceae family that also includes broccoli, cabbage, kale and turnips. The history of the radish is a bit light on facts, but it seems to have originated in south-east Asia and made its way to Europe with the Romans.

At only 16 calories per 100 grams you’re not going to get fat eating radish; it’s one of those vegetables that uses more calories to eat than it contains! Radish is said to be good for the liver and stomach as it contains anti-oxidants and high levels of vitamin C – 18% of the UK recommended daily allowance. It’s also said to have anti-cancer and detoxing attributes.

In my quest to improve our lunchtime menu, whilst at the same time reducing costs, I decided to brighten up last week’s successful potato salad with the addition of radishes. This was a triumph, but it only needed two or three finely sliced specimens to add an extra layer of mustardy flavour. I then moved on to develop two more salads: Radish with sliced spring onion and a ‘Russian’ salad which exchanged the spring onion for diced cucumber and added dill. I dressed both with a mayo-type mix of soya yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt.

After preparing a few salads (and still not having used up the whole bunch of radishes) I wondered if it were possible to cook them. The answer was a resounding, yes. During the course of my research I came across a great website from some UK radish growers. It extols the virtues of radish, and has some great recipes, too, which I’ll be exploring with the next bunch of radishes. But it was in the Guardian’s food pages that I discovered a great recipe for Roasted Radish with an Egyptian dukkah dip. With a few tweaks I’ve added this to the warm salad repertoire.

Middle Eastern Warm Radish Salad

A bunch of radishes, cleaned
Salad ingredients of choice: lettuce, tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced peppers, avocado
Fresh lemon
Olive oil
Salad dressing of choice: lemon, olive oil and salt works well

1. First, pre-heat the oven to 190c (fan). Clean the radishes, remove any hairy bits and make sure they are dry
2. Toss the radishes in 1 tbsp of olive oil, season and spread on a baking tray. Cook for about 15 minutes
3. Meanwhile, assemble salads. Line bowls with chopped lettuce, top with sliced tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced red and yellow peppers, sliced avocado (whatever is to hand) and dress with a light olive oil and lemon dressing
4. When the radishes are soft and golden, remove from oven and squeeze over a little fresh lemon juice
5. Place the radishes on top of the prepared salad bowls and sprinkle with two or three tablespoons of Dukkah.
6. Have a small bowl of dukkah on the table to ‘dunk’ radishes in too, if preferred


Toast, as appropriate, the following ingredients, then mix together and keep in an airtight container. Use as a salad topping, dressing, or dip.

Toast in a dry frying pan, then crush in pestle and mortar:
3 tbsp coriander seeds
             1 tbsp cumin seeds
             1 tsp fennel seeds

Toast, then chop finely (in grinder/ processor):
             75g hazelnuts

Toast but leave whole:
             75g sesame seeds
             1 heaped tbsp. pumpkin seeds

Add to the final mix and stir well:
             1 tsp smoked paprika
             Salt, as required to taste


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