Photograph by Jack Monroe

Photograph by Jack Monroe


This year, we grew ‘family radishes’ in the garden in a little patch of soil, scattering a mixture of Bright Lights and French Breakfast seeds from the garden centre for a mixture of long fuschia delights, and tiny red and purple and yellow balls of crisp, fresh goodness. I wanted to firstly grow something that would keep my attention span – roughly six weeks from seed to harvest, while I waited for the tiny potatoes to grow a little – and to challenge myself with a New(ish) Food. I’ve only ever had radishes sliced thinly in a salad, which is a perfectly fine way to eat them, but I wanted to discover more about these little enigmatic vegetables.
July is a great month for radishes, whether they’re your own little seedlings scattered in soil six weeks earlier, or cheap and cheerful from the shops, they’re well in season, and taste just like they’re supposed to.
Jane Grigson was of the school of thought that a radish was best eaten straight from the ground – with a wipe on ones apron or a quick spritz under the tap first, of course! Hugh F-W smears his in butter and dunks them in salt – and I must confess to loving each as much as the other…
But there’s much more to the humble radish than slicing it up in a salad – so use the season to explore them while they’re inexpensive and widely available. I’ll be blogging a few radish recipes this week to show them off!
And if you’re curious, growing your own couldn’t be simpler; they don’t need much depth, or space, and grow from a tiny seed to a bright little vegetable in around 6 weeks – making them good for kids who might get bored watching a potato grow for months on end, or equally impatient adults like me..
So far, I’ve pulled up 140 radishes – an ample amount to explore and experiment with – and just shaken my jar of seeds over again to do a second lot. If you don’t have space for a grow bag, a Tupperware or plastic container on a sunny window ledge, filled with a few inches of soil, would work to grow them indoors. Fill it with earth and sprinkle a scant teaspoon of seeds evenly over the top – I tend to ignore the spacing rules that come on the back of seed packets – they’ll jostle each other over if they need to, and life is too short to measure 18cm rows…
Keep radishes in the fridge once pulled and cleaned, with the leafy green tops intact until you’re ready to use them. The leaves are a great indicator of freshness; sad and wilted leaves do not a happy radish make. Ideally, don’t pull them up until the day before you want to use them – they’ll keep a week or two in the ground, or a day or two in the fridge. I wrap mine in slightly damp kitchen paper and pop them in the fridge, and use them as quickly as possible for a bright, crisp flavour.
Here’s what I’ve made with them so far:
RADISH FATTOUSH
RADISH TOPS PESTO
RADISH, BROAD BEAN AND MINT RISOTTO
 
What’s your favourite radish recipe or idea? Tell me in the comments section below!
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack