black radish black radish The black radish has many uses you probably didn't know about. (Photo: nada54/Shutterstock)

What is a black radish? A primer on how to eat this tasty root vegetable

Beneath its tough exterior, the black radish reveals a world of flavors. Here are 3 ways to enjoy one.

Who knew a black radish could deliver so much flavor and so many uses?

I didn't. But when I saw this unconventional-looking root vegetable at my local market, I knew I had to give it a try.

You might not be familiar with the black radish. In fact, you might have glossed right over them during your last farmer's market visit. They're different than traditional spring radishes, which are pink or purple, in that their skin is (obviously) black. They're also larger in diameter than traditional ones, ranging from 3 to 4 inches. Their flavor is more pungent, too, and their texture is a bit tougher.

Cookbook author Faye Levy advised keeping it simple when it comes to black radishes. So I took the knife to the radish and cut away the root and stem parts. The moist, pearl-white interior was such a contrast to the black skin that I thought I’d peel it in stripes, just to be pretty.

Sliced black radishA sliced black radish (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

And I ate it three different ways. One half of it, I cut into 1/4″ slices and sautéed in a little butter, sprinkling salt and black pepper over the slices and turning them over as they cooked until they were tender and dappled with brown spots.

Buttered, sauteed black radishButtered black radish. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

The texture was meaty, something like a steamed potato. The butter had mellowed the raw radish’s pungency, leaving a tamed radish to savor. This is something I’ll do again. I see that the radish can be dressed up with herbs, grated cheese, maybe a mild sauce – but for right now, plain, buttered black radish is delicious enough for me. One tip: Slice on the thick side, maybe even as thick as 1/2 inch. The meatier, the sweeter.

Black radish, carrot and chickweed salad Black radish, carrot and chickweed salad (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

The other half of the radish, I cut into matchsticks and combined with a grated carrot and a vinaigrette dressing for a robust slaw (pictured right).

I also tried a few black radish chips. Slice the root as thinly as possible, or put halves in your food processor. Bathe them in a little olive oil and sprinkle salt over them. Bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. Be careful – they can burn to a crisp in no time, as I found out. The unburnt, crisp, brown chips were quite tasty. My husband crunched them up and liked them, too.

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