Radishes and Spring Turnips

All About Radishes and Spring Turnips
Featured Recipe: Radis, Beurre et Sel
Featured Recipe: Roasted Radishes
Featured Recipe: Crisp Salad (with Salad Turnips)
Featured Recipe: Braised Salad Turnips
More Ideas for Radishes and Spring Turnips

All About Radishes and Spring Turnips

If the leaves are still attached, they should be bright green, crisp, and not wilted. Choose medium-sized, firm, crisp radishes or turnips. Oversized roots may be pithy or spongy. The root should be smooth, unblemished, firm for their size, and brightly colored (radishes) or creamy white colored (turnips).

Most importantly, remove the greens from the roots right away. Remove any rubber bands or ties. Store roots in a plastic bag in the back of the refrigerator. Some types of radishes can last for weeks this way; watermelon radishes harvested in fall can be stored and used through the winter. The texture may deteriorate but they are tasty and can also be cooked. The round, red radishes are best if used within the week.

Store the greens in a separate bag and use the greens quickly, radish and turnip greens deteriorate quickly. The greens will store better if already cooked (see below).

Storing fall radishes and turnips: If keeping large amounts of winter radishes or turnips for longer term storage, cull any that are bruised, cut or diseased. Twist off the tops, if attached, leaving about half an inch of stems. Store the roots in layers in boxes of moist sand, sawdust or peat, or in heaps or ridges covered with a layer of soil and straw. Place them in a cool (32-40⁰F), damp, dark place such as a basement or root cellar.

Preparing radish and turnip roots
Rinse the roots and gently clean off any dirt. For salad turnips a thin layer can be peeled. Cut off the stem and root ends, leaving 1/4"-1/2" stem if you'd like. The roots can served raw in salads or crudites, roasted, boiled, steamed, sauteed, braised, or simmered in stews and soups. Salad turnips in particular are delicious in a simple braise with their greens.

Preparing radish and turnip greens
Use the greens as you would any other green. They taste less bitter when young and small and can be used in salads. When larger, radish greens develop prickly hairs that make eating the raw greens unpleasant to some. Blending the greens into a pesto is a recommended use. Radish or turnip greens can be braised, roasted, or added to soups and stews. The greens can also be baked into tasty chips, though they are more delicate than kale chips.

Cubed roots can be blanched for approximately 2 minutes, shocked in ice cold water to arrest cooking, and frozen. Or cooked roots can be mashed, cooled, and frozen.  Cooked greens can be frozen as well.

Radishes and turnips can be pickled or fermented.

Further Information
Read more about storage and preparation of radishes at the LA Times, Food 52, and Organic Authority.

– Jackie Starr

Radis, Beurre et Sel

This recipe stipulates that you are eating outside. Otherwise don’t bother, unless you are in fabulous company.
Raw radishes
Unsalted cultured butter
Gray Sea or Maldon salt
Fresh Sliced Pain Poilane, Peasant Bread (or any rendition of a bread that has a nice chew and crunch – Trader Joe’s French Peasant Bread works well for this recipe)
Get radishes the day you plan to eat them. You want fresh radishes. Believe me.

Wash radishes. Gently remove any bits of soil. Allow radishes to dry in a colander or spread out flat on a clean dishtowel to dry. Trim each radish at both ends. Lope off roots and leave a ¼ to ½ inch length of stems on tops. Chill until ready to serve (maximum 3 hours).
Arrange prepared radishes, butter, salt and bread in a manner that suits your esthetic style and décor. If possible, allow for the salt to be in a small bowl, or salt cellar, so that one can roll and crumble the salt between thumb and index finger.
Take a radish in one hand and butter knife in the other. Place a small dollop of butter on top of radish. Take a pinch of salt and crumble it on top of the butter. Bite off half of the radish and chew. Knock off the rest of the radish. Chase with a bite of bread and liberal amounts of butter. Start over.
Alternate method: Spread butter on a slice of bread. Layer thin slices of radish on top. Sprinkle with salt. Enjoy!
Serving Suggestion: Accompany with sparkling water or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Tina Jaillet is a Lexington resident and a LexFarm Founding Member. She has boundless interests yet sharing foods with loved ones is a daily pursuit. Tina volunteers for the LexFarm educational committee. 

Roasted Radishes

I almost always eat radishes raw.  However, my sister gave me this recipe to prepare radishes in an unusual way.  Roasting brings out unexpected sweetness which counters the radishes' natural bite, resulting in a surprisingly different taste.

1 pound radishes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Place all the ingredients on a piece of foil along with 2 ice cubes.  Wrap it up tight.  Bake in a 475F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the radishes are tender.

Betsy Pollack is a LexFarm member with a passion for cooking.  She tries to eat as mindfully as possible, thinking about where food comes from, geographically and otherwise, eating seasonally, and supporting local agriculture.

Crisp Salad (with Salad Turnips)

2 – 4  2” diameter (or smaller) turnips
Ume Plum Vinegar (available at Whole Foods)
5 – 10 ounces of washed salad greens (depending on how much you want to eat or serve)
Roasted walnut oil
1 washed whole fresh lime
(Optional palate balancer) 1 tablespoon of ¼ – ½ inch diced dried mango
Wash and gently peel turnips (apply light pressure as to only remove the thinnest peel possible). Slice whole turnips paper to paper clip thin. Place in shallow bowl. Drizzle liberally with Ume Plum vinegar. Toss and let marinade for 5 min.  
Place greens in serving bowl/platter. Top with layer of turnips (strain as you go leaving whatever vinegar comes along). Quickly grate approximately 1 tablespoon of lime rind on top. Drizzle with just enough oil to slightly coat about ½ the greens. Toss and serve.
Optional: Sprinkle dried mango on top if you want a richer, more lingering mouth feel. Omit if you want a crisp finish.

Note: if you don't have plum vinegar, you can make a substitute by combining 1 tbsp vinegar (cider, white wine, red wine, sherry…) 1/8 tsp brown sugar as well as salt. Muddle with 1 chopped prune. Pour through a sieve.

Tina Jaillet is a Lexington resident and a LexFarm Founding Member. She has boundless interests yet sharing foods with loved ones is a daily pursuit. Tina volunteers for the LexFarm educational committee. 

Braised Salad Turnips

If you read any of my recipes last year, you may know that for many years I was a fall-winter CSA shareholder at Willie Greens Farm in the Seattle area. The farm introduced my husband and me to many new-for-us vegetables. Without the list of items in our box, and the process of elimination, I would have had no idea that the bunch of adorable creamy-white 1-2" beauties, with their bright, fresh greens still attached, were baby turnips!
A simple braise is my favorite way to prepare salad turnips.  I tend to wing it but have estimated some amounts below. I don't think you can really mess this one up.
A couple of bunches of small white salad turnips, scrubbed, with roots removed (about a pound)
1-2 Tb butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or any other fat.
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp sweetener (sugar, honey, tamarind paste, maple syrup, etc) or to taste
Black pepper to taste
½ cup water (or stock, wine, or other braising liquid)
Greens from your salad turnips (optional)
Optional other flavors (garlic, scallion, shallots, lemon juice or zest, orange juice or zest, thyme or other herb, chile pepper, miso, ½ tsp sesame oil, sesame seeds, any type vinegar)
Cut the turnips into ½" pieces.  Based on the actual size of the turnips, you might leave them whole, halve them, or cut thick slices.  Heat the oil or butter over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the turnips, salt and pepper. After stirring to coat the turnips with oil, let them sit without stirring a few minutes to lightly brown them. Flip or stir to brown the other side. Very small turnips may be tender at this point and need no further cooking liquid. You may like them to retain a bit of crunch, and as they can be eaten raw, it's up to you.
Most of the time, I add some liquid, usually water, and a pinch of sugar or squeeze of honey. Bring to a simmer, and let the water cook off. As it does, the turnips will become glazed. If they are still not tender at this point, add a bit more water and continue steaming. Or, if they are tender before the water has evaporated, remove the turnips with a slotted spoon, and set aside while you reduce the cooking liquid to a syrupy glaze. Add the turnips back to coat and rewarm. I like them best when they are just tender.
Optional greens: The turnips greens can be incorporated by first sauteeing them on their own in oil with salt and pepper, then removing from pan and setting aside while you cook the turnips, and, finally, added back to the pan at the end. Or, greens can be cooked and incorporated only at the end with another pinch or two of salt and pepper. Remember that if the greens give off much liquid, the turnips and their greens will be cooking a bit longer in order to reduce to a glaze again, so add them before the turnips are fully tender.

Jackie Starr is a LexFarm founding member who has been a flexitarian home cook for 25 years. Her recipe selections and adaptations are informed by experiences living abroad, by having spent many years in the Bay Area and Seattle, and by a delight in local, seasonal bounty.

More Ideas for Radishes and Spring Turnips

Add to salad.  It's nice to offset the slight bite of the radishes with a creamy dressing.

Slice them thin or julienne and add to your favorite slaw.

Roast them, tossed in olive oil or with vinegar too.  Both of these recipes give you options for using the greens as well.

Who knew you could bake with radishes? This radish-carrot date nut bread is recommended by CSA shareholder Caitlin Sweeney.
More ideas for radishes from Food & Wine and Saveur.
Eat them raw, in salad, or dipped in hummus.

Stir-fry them and serve with soba noodles

Saute them in butter.

Soup is always good.  Try Miso-Tahini Soup (Delicata squash isn't in season right now, but try substituting snap peas or pea shoots) or Spring Turnip Soup with Garlic Chickpea Croutons.

Here are four different preparations for salad turnips, including:

  • Fall salad with turnips and apples: To change this to a summer salad, try using thinly sliced snap peas, arugula, and strawberries  instead of dried apricots, fennel, and apple.  Save the fall idea for when turnips reappear in the fall.
  • Glazed turnips with greens: This is Jackie's go-to way to make beautiful spring turnips with greens.
  • Roasted Turnips and Couscous Salad: You could use any grain!

Food 52 had a contest for the Best Recipe for Radishes or Turnips.  Check out the winners and other entries.

What about quick pickles for radishes or turnips?

This radish-turnip salad also sounds delicious for a hot day.  It would be terrific as a side with any Asian or Mexican-inspired foods. Or you could use it as a slaw to top soft tacos or Asian noodles.
Don't discard the greens.  You can sauté them (washed but not dried) in olive oil, alone or mixed with other greens.  Add a smashed clove of garlic too.

Wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in a sealed plastic bag or container, the greens will last for several days.

Make radish-leaf pesto.

Roast the turnips with the greens attached.  The greens turn out like kale chips.