an experiment with radish tops

I went to the farmer’s market this morning and was excited to find summery goodies like radishes, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. (I’m still counting the days until I find peaches out there though… stay tuned for my peach avocado salsa!).

Farmers Market finds

Farmers Market finds

As I was walking home, I started wondering if you could eat the radish tops. It seems weird and wasteful to cut off the radishes to eat and throw away a huge pile of leafy greens. But I knew some research would be required; some vegetables have toxic parts that you’re not supposed to eat, like the tops of rhubarb. After a little googling, I’d learned that radish greens can be eaten – raw, juiced, in soups, or braised or sauteed as you would other tough greens like mustard greens or swiss chard. The only warnings were of the pungent peppery, bitter flavor which some people don’t like. I also found out that the radish greens are high in potassium and folate, and have six times as much vitamin C as the radishes themselves.

So I got to work. I knew I didn’t want to make a soup (it’s June and I have no AC) and I don’t own a juicer. One touch of the brittle prickly leaves told me I didn’t want to try them raw either, so I started hunting for a recipe ideas that involved pan cooking. I came across an Asian stir-fry type recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen, and decided to use that as a guide but alter it based on what ingredients I already had.

Radishes

Separating radishes from radish tops

I didn’t have peanut oil so I used sesame oil. I also doubled the amount of garlic, and didn’t remove it before adding the greens (if you’re not as obsessed with garlic as I am, stick to the original recipe). And I substituted honey for the agave nectar in the sauce and added more sriracha (I have a high tolerance for heat). I was really skeptical as I was chopping the greens. They are very rough and have almost a needle-y hairlike quality to the leaves. After I sauteed them, I took a taste before adding the sauce. I have to say they were probably too bitter to be enjoyed without some sort of seasoning help. But after I added the soy-rice vinegar-honey-sriracha sauce? Delicious! And, as of an hour after eating them, I haven’t collapsed yet. So let’s hope all those people on the internet were right about radish tops not being toxic.

Sauteed radish greens

Final product: sauteed radish greens w/ garlic & asian sauce

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