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TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Radish

mahi-mahi-eggplant-puree-dueforni-230

Roasted mahi-mahi with baby squash,
roasted eggplant puree, pistachios and
watermelon radish. Photo courtesy Due
Forni.

 

Some vegetables light up any dish; watermelon radishes are one. Thanks to farmers markets, we’re seeing a lot more of them.

Watermelon radishes are available year-round, with peak seasons in spring and late fall (meaning they’re more bountiful and less expensive). Work them into your Valentine’s Day menu: They’re a great special-occasion ingredient.

A large Chinese radish, its exterior is creamy white with touches of pale green. But the flesh: ooh-la-la.

The watermelon radish has a eautiful rosy pink-magenta flesh, reminiscent of the color of watermelon. It is patterned with bright circular striations of color that are captivating whether sliced, quartered or julienned.

The texture is crisp and firm yet succulent. And the flavor is mild, lacking the peppery profile of conventional radishes. Instead, it tastes more like daikon, the white Japanese radish.

The Chinese name is shinrimei, and the radish is known by several other names including Rose Heart and Beauty Heart.

Depending on when harvested, watermelon radishes can range in size from golf ball to soft ball—up to three inches and more in diameter.

 

The color and mildness of the watermelon radish make it a lovely surface for hors d’oeuvres (and a better-for-you alternative to a bread or cracker base). It perks up a green salad. It makes a beautiful garnish on anything savory.

But there’s so much more you can do with watermelon radishes.

Watermelon radishes can be served fresh or cooked, hot or cold. They pair well with apple, bacon, butter, citrus, egg dishes, cheeses such as feta and chèvre, cucumbers, creamy based dressings and vinaigrettes, fennel, mild salad greens, noodles such as soba and udon, white fish and a variety of seasonings, especially cilantro, mint and tarragon.

That’s a lot to work with!

 

WAYS TO SERVE WATERMELON RADISH

You can cook radishes like turnips, but these beautiful radishes deserve to be enjoyed in all their bright color and crispness.
 
Salads

  • Make a Radish “Caprese”: Serve slices of watermelon radish in lieu of mozzarella with sliced tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar—a change of pace that saves calories and fat. You can substitute slices of actual watermelon for the tomatoes.
  • Make a sophisticated salad: Toss thin slices with mâche or microgreens in a special vinaigrette—sherry or honey-dijon, for example.
  • Use as a salad base: Thinly slice large radishes, spread on the plate and use them as a base for other salad ingredients.
  • Try this Sesame Peanut Cucumber Salad recipe, an artistic delight of bright red radish matchsticks and shaved cucumber ribbons.
  • Pair with mushrooms in this Radish, Mushroom & Watercress salad recipe with a sherry-honey vinaigrette.
  • Pair with fennel in this Watermelon Radish & Fennel Salad with Lavender Vinaigrette recipe.
  •  

    blood-orange-watermelon-radish-lincolnbarbour-230

    A simple citrus salad with blood orange and watermelon radish. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Lincoln Barbour.

     
    Sandwiches

  • Add sliced watermelon radish to sandwiches for color, flavor and crunch, instead of lettuce tomatoes.
  • Try watercress and radish tea sandwiches (or full size sandwiches) with unsalted butter or fresh goat cheese.
  •  
    STORING WATERMELON RADISHES

    To store watermelon radishes, discard the leafy tops and wrap the radishes in plastic. They’ll keep for several weeks.

      




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