Buttery, slightly sweet, with a mild earthy note – these taste like spring
It’s radish season!
Not impressed? This recipe may change your mind.
When you glaze radishes in butter and a bit of sugar, they lose most of their sharp edge. And they develop a deep, rooty flavor that pairs particularly well with roast meats. Best of all, glazing radishes is an easy way to cook them.
So make more than you think you’ll need. Everyone will want seconds. Maybe thirds.
Recipe: Glazed Radishes
Radishes are fast-growing and love cool weather, so they’re always one of the first locally grown produce items available in spring. They’re great raw in salads, of course, but when cooked their flavor develops new dimensions.
You can use any kind of radish in this recipe. We used ordinary red radishes, but other varieties work equally well.
We prefer to buy radishes in bunches, with the greens still attached (they’re fresher and generally higher quality than the bagged ones). We don’t use the greens in this recipe, but they’re edible. You can add them to salads or use them in soup. Or even add them to a smoothie.
This recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and serves 4 as a side dish (you can easily halve or double the recipe).
Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in a covered container. We suggest warming the leftover radishes before you serve them.
- 3 bunches of radishes, preferably with greens attached (at least 2 dozen radishes)
- ½ to 1 cup water (can substitute stock; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us – see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (several grinds for us)
- ~2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
- Cut the greens off the radishes, leaving a “tail” of ¼ to ½ inch (see Notes). Reserve the greens for another use. Cut the stringy roots off the radishes, flush with the body of each radish. Wash the radishes well (they can be sandy). If some of the radishes are noticeably larger than the others, cut them in half.
- Add the radishes to a frying pan or saucepan (one just wide enough to hold the radishes in one layer). Add the water (or stock) until it comes about halfway up the radishes. Add the butter, sugar, and salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pan, then continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (until the radishes are just tender when you insert a knife tip into them).
- Uncover the radishes, then increase the heat to boil off the remaining liquid. Note that during Step 2, the radishes probably have lost some color (sometimes they turn completely white). The color they lose will tint the water a rosy red. As you boil off the water, you’ll form a glaze. Using a large spoon or spatula, roll the radishes in the glaze to coat them (this will help recolor the radishes, albeit in a lighter shade – probably a pastel pink). Some sugar will likely remain on the bottom of the pan after the water has boiled off, so add another tablespoon or two of water to dissolve it. Then bring the water to a boil again and continue to roll the radishes in the liquid until it has boiled off (this will coat each radish with glaze). The radishes may brown a bit, but that’s OK. Browning just adds to their flavor.
- Remove the radishes from the heat. Adjust the salt and add black pepper, then add the minced parsley, if using. Toss to combine, and serve.
- We leave a short “tail” of greens on the radishes because we like the way it looks when cooked. But you can cut the greens off completely if you prefer.
- Using chicken or beef stock (instead of water) adds extra flavor and makes for a richer dish.
- Some people add a tablespoon or so of vinegar to the cooking water (Step 2), which gives an interesting flavor twist. Next time we do this, we may try using balsamic vinegar.
- You can substitute brown sugar for white sugar if you wish.
- Step 3 calls for adding an extra tablespoon or two of water to finish the dish. But you could substitute port wine or cream instead for a different flavor note.
- Bacon goes well with glazed radishes. If you’d like to add it, here’s how: Cut a couple pieces of bacon into small pieces, then cook them in the pan that you’ll be using to cook the radishes. When the bacon is brown and crisp, remove it and set aside. Cook the radishes as directed in the recipe, but reduce the amount of butter by half (the rendered bacon fat in the pan will take its place). When the glazed radishes are done, sprinkle them with the cooked bacon pieces and serve.
- We like to serve glazed radishes when they’re hot, but they’re also good lukewarm. So you can cook them a bit ahead of time if you wish, and then set them aside until you’re ready to eat.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. This is coarser than regular table salt, so it doesn’t seem as “salty” by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, season to your taste, not ours.
- Radishes are Brassicaceae, making them part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Other veggies in this family include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Radishes are grown around the world, and have been cultivated since at least the third century BC (and probably long before).
- Radishes are grown mainly for their roots. But, as noted above, the greens are also tasty. Radishes come in numerous varieties, with flavor ranging from mild to peppery hot.
“Ah, radishes,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “The first veggie of spring.”
“Easy to grow, too,” I said. “Assuming the rabbits don’t eat their leaves before the roots have time to develop.”
“Aargh, rabbits,” said Mrs K R. “Hope springs eternal when battling them. And squirrels.”
“The moment we plant our seeds, all the local critters just spring to life,” I said.
“And once things start growing, they really spring into action,” said Mrs K R. “I swear I can hear them munching out there.”
“Maybe we should just admit defeat,” I said. “I don’t feel that old spring in my step when I contemplate fighting off the critters once again.”
“Agreed,” said Mrs K R. “So here’s our resolution: Instead of battling wildlife, we’ll just spring for the great locally grown produce at the farmer’s market.”
And give new meaning to the term “spring chickens.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Braised Belgian Endive
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Moroccan Orange and Radish Salad
Or check out the index for more recipes