I am OK with radishes. Really, I am. They have a peppery bite, a bright color and a pleasant crunch.
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But I've never really taken them seriously on their own. They always seemed like a side show — a garnish — to a salad or some other important dish.
But radishes as the main event? Hmm ... why?
Because radishes are nutritious, of course, and tasty when roasted or slow cooked. And there's the eye appeal — most grocery-store radishes have a bright-white interior wrapped in a magenta-red skin.
Which makes them perfect for children or other picky eaters. Because before we eat with our mouths, we "eat" with our eyes. If food doesn't look appealing, we take a pass.
Why try radishes?
Radishes are an early summer crop, but they can still be found in farmers markets. And, of course, there are radishes year-round in the grocery store.
Nutritionally, they are terrific. For one thing, radishes are a low-calorie food. A half-cup serving has only 10 calories. They are also high in fiber, low in cholesterol and almost fat free.
Radishes are a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese, according to my favorite nutrition-data source — Self.com — and a very good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Plus, they fight cancer. Radishes belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables, along with broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, mustard and watercress. Like other crucifers, radishes contain phytochemicals that help prevent the formation of carcinogens in the body.
Another interesting tidbit about radishes — they are 95 percent water. That's more water content than tomatoes or watermelon.
One nutritional downside to radishes is that they are packed with carbs, most of which are sugar. Still, at 2 grams per serving, it's not much sugar — about the same as cauliflower, celery, green beans or iceberg lettuce.
Eat radishes raw
Traditional recipes for radishes fall along three lines — add raw, sliced radishes to lettuce salads; make tea sandwiches with raw slices; or saute sliced radishes in butter with salt and pepper.
"I've done little finger sandwiches with a French breakfast variety on pumpernickel slathered with butter and some fresh dill," said John Walla, executive chef of Black Eyed Susan restaurant locations in Hagerstown and Halfway. "I do some (beef) tongue tacos with radish. Especially the hotter radishes."
He also suggested adding thin slices to a slaw to add some crunch.
Walla said when he was a boy, his father grew radishes at home.
"We would eat them right out of the garden," he said. "And since radishes grow fairly quickly, if your child grows them in a pot, they're more likely to try them."