One of the most beautiful vegetables in the market, the radish brings a pop of color to a sea of green. Milder than their summer and fall counterparts, these are the radishes of riverbank picnics, of afternoon tea sandwiches on chamomile lawns under the chestnut tree. Somehow, a more tasteful radish, in every sense of the word.
“This is my first year of growing them in springtime,” says Carisa Salerno of Windfall Farms. “We often grow them in fall, but in spring the problem is a kind of beetle that loves to eat them up! And we don’t spray anything, so this year I was really challenged to see if I could get them to grow.
“I used some netting, and put up a little coop house, then I planted a row next to it to see what difference it made. And I picked a bunch of varieties to see what would do better. Some of them have really unique colors — bright, bright purple or rusty yellow or bright red. Look at this one. Plum-purple. I think they’re just beautiful, and so mellow and juicy.”
Look for radishes that are plump and smooth, with bright greens and few blemishes. Wash the radishes and dry, then store in the fridge for up to a week. The greens should be used the day of, though, because they can go a little flabby.
If cooking’s not your thing, you can find Carisa’s radishes at Upholstery Store (713 Washington Street; 212-929-6384). I met chef de cuisine Matthew Neele making his selection from the stall. “I love these radishes. I slice them raw and put them into a spring salad with green asparagus, sugar snap peas, a little dehydrated raspberry powder, and a dressing made with raspberry vinegar. So good.”