Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The virtuous radish

French Breakfast radishes alongside their cooked green tops

Now that the heat of summer is over and the cool Fall nights have begun, it's time to plant new seed of cool-loving vegetables and greens. These are many of the same veggies that thrived in cool Spring.
About 3 weeks ago I began planting new little rows of spinach, carrot, bok choy, radishes, beets, and new baby kale and swiss chard. I also have been trying out new types of seeds for various Asian greens to see what they do.

My favorite radish is the long French Breakfast radish.
The trick to radishes, since they grow so quickly in cool weather, is to plant a new row of seed about once a week, with only about 15 seeds in the row, one inch or so apart. This provides a steady source of fresh young crispy radishes, rather than having too many radishes ready to harvest at once, or worse yet getting older and fibrous in the ground while waiting too long to be picked. Treat your seeds like the precious treasures they are, and space them out carefully in succession for the best freshest supply of delicacies.

When radishes are still young and fresh, their green tops can be cooked quickly in a very small amount of water and eaten like spinach. Incredibly nutritious! The slightly furry-prickly leaves quickly soften and shrink in volume by about two thirds when cooked, just like spinach does. I like to cook a whole large bowlful in about 1/2 cup of water, add a small pat of butter and a little sea salt at the end, and consume the nutritious broth right along with the radish greens.

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