Savor Our Seasons: Radishes

By Liza Drew, Keene State College Dietetic Intern

Flavorful Fact: Radishes are one of the earliest spring crops, taking less than 30 days to grow. The name radish is Greek for “fast appearing.”

As the ground slowly thaws and the sun begins to warm the soil, April is an exciting month for early planting. Radishes, peas, spinach, arugula and other greens can be planted outdoors as soon the soil can be worked. Spinach seeds can even be sprinkled over frozen ground and allowed to germinate as the ground thaws. Not only are these early crops fast and easy to grow, but they also add fresh flavor and variety to a meal. Nothing tastes better than your first crunchy bite of a locally grown salad after a long winter of root vegetables, casseroles and stews.  Leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, and chard are filled with folic acid, iron and disease fighting phytochemicals. Serve them with a source of vitamin C such as fresh fruit, peppers, or tomatoes to help your body more easily absorb the iron found in the plants. Here is a simple salad recipe that will wake up your taste buds and provide you with a healthy start to spring.

Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds peas in pods) or 1 pound   frozen petite peas
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
3 cups fresh pea tendrils, coarsely chopped, or crisp green such as radicchio or curly endive.

Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until aromatic and slightly darker, about 2 minutes. Cool; grind finely in spice mill. Whisk lime juice, honey, and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; stir in dill. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Cook peas in pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes for fresh (or about 2 minutes for frozen). Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add radishes, feta, and dressing; toss. Season with salt and pepper. If using pea tendrils or greens, divide among bowls. Divide salad among bowls. Serve.

From: Bon Appetit, April 2007