Spring’s First Root Vegetable

Each spring, our palettes are dazzled by an array of quintessential spring vegetables: asparagus, sweet peas, and strawberries to name a few.  However, often overlooked, and perhaps, the earliest of the spring crops is the radish.  Easy to grow and delightfully tasty, this early root vegetable is crisp and crunchy in texture with a spicy, very assertive, sharpness.  Radishes offer a rush of flavor to an “over-wintered” absence of freshness, both in consistency and taste.

Although originating in China, the common name “radish” is derived from the Latin term, “radix”or root.  Exactly that, the radish is a quick grower, a root that germinates in just a matter of days and grows to maturity in just 3-4 weeks.  It loves cool weather and thrives in a sandy, loamy soil, not high in nitrogen.  Additionally, the radish prefers a slightly acidic soil and enjoys full sun.

Here at Aspen Moon Farm, we have planted four types of radish this spring: sora, cherry belle, purple plum, and French breakfast.  Our first planting occurred in early April, on the fourth, and a subsequent planting was on April 29th.  Because of our cold and snowy April, the first planting is still providing us with beautiful and ready-to-eat radishes and our newer bed is just ready for harvest.  According to our biodynamic planting cycle, we have the radishes planted in beds running parallel to our turnips and other root crops, beets and carrots.

Enjoy our radishes fresh in salads or braised with other early spring crops, such as hakurai turnips and baby carrots.  Or, alternatively, try this traditional European radish butter spread on your favorite bread:

Recipe adapted from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors cookbook:

6 radishes – of any type

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Sea salt

  1. Wash and trim the radishes.  Slice the radishes into thin rounds , then crosswise into narrow strips.
  2. Mix the butter with the lemon zest until it’s soft, then stir in the chopped radishes and a pinch of salt.  Spread onto slices of crusty baguettes and serve.

Also included in this week’s CSA:

– Sugar snap peas

– Japanese salad turnips

– Spinach mix

– Salad mix or head lettuce

– Arugula or spicy greens mix

– Spring onions


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