Radishes and Turnips

It’s been a cool, dry spring. Watering helps with the dryness, and various fabric covers, cold frames and a greenhouse help with the cold, but what would be even better would be a steady rain and some warmer days.  We’ve gotten a little of each in the past week and the garden vegetables are responding with fresher green and more growth.  Now that the Solstice is upon us, perhaps rain and warmth will continue, or at least warmth, and vegetables will really start to grow.  

In the meantime, I’m grateful for radishes and spring turnips, round red and round white.  

Crisp, spicy radishes are tasty sliced and slipped into a nut butter sandwich or with butter and salt on bread.  They are also wonderful lightly pickled in white wine vinegar, salt and sugar.  Simply pickled or with the addition of some yogurt and garlic, they make a great condiment or an addition to salads. 

Yogurt Radish Salad

Makes 2 cups

 1–2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar, optional

2 teaspoons coarse salt, or to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

2 cups thinly sliced radishes

1 clove crushed garlic

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt, drained if watery

 In a medium bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, salt and a little pepper. Toss in the radishes and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Toss in the garlic and yogurt and serve.

One more way I’ve been preparing radishes is roasting them. Cut into wedges, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted for 10-12 minutes at 425, they lose their spice and crispness, but in exchange they mellow into a soft, subtly radish-flavored side dish.  

Spring turnips are round like radishes but more dense than crisp and more sweet than spicy.  Planted at the same time as radishes, they are ready for harvest about a week later.  When they are still small, about an inch in diameter, I treat them like radishes, serving them raw in slices or lightly pickling them.  When they get bigger, I roast them.  Prepared and roasted the same way I do radishes, turnips become sweeter and more tender than roasted radishes.  Roasted spring turnips are one of our favorite late spring dishes.  Turnip greens are very tasty too, sauteed in garlic and olive oil, they make a pretty bed for a batch of roasted turnips.  

As we reach the end of the current crop of radishes and turnips, spring broccoli and cauliflower are forming heads that will provide delicious meals while the next planting of radishes and turnips matures. Soon after that, beets, another round root, carrots and sugar snap peas will be ready, and we’ll be done with radishes and turnips for this season.  But they’ll be there for us next year, the first gifts of spring.  

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