Sure, it’s December 14th but this warm weather has got us thinking of summer. And today’s Meatless Monday blog was written by Catherine Bilinski, a volunteer testing and tasting recipes from our Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook. She takes us into her kitchen and shares her stories and tips for cooking a delicious Radish and Pea Salad.

This recipe is a bit of a variation on an English Pea Salad — which isn’t English at all. It’s Southern. “English” distinguishes green shell peas from crowder peas and black eyed peas. I’ve adjusted the amount of radish typically used to highlight their vibrant, peppery crunch.

Approximately 4 servingssalad
1 bunch red radishes
Frozen peas, petit pois or sugar snaps in about equal quantity
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
½ Cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt

Wash, trim the tops and roots of the radishes and slice or cut in small pieces. Measure them and add to a mixing bowl, then measure the same amount of peas into a sauce pan with about 1/2” of water ½ tsp salt, and cook until just tender (or in the case of sugar snaps until crisp-tender.) Drain and rinse well under cold water, then drain again. Add to the mixing bowl w/ the radishes along with the chopped celery.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Pour over the vegetables, mix gently, cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Chopped hard boiled eggs and/or crumbled bacon are sometimes added to English pea salad and would make a nice addition here. Fresh dill would also work well.

salad 2NOTE: The vinegar in the dressing will cause the bright green peas to turn the color of canned peas overnight, so plan to dress this shortly before serving if you make it ahead.

Radishes, which belong to the same family as cabbages and broccoli, are grown in a wide variety of colors and sizes. First cultivated in Europe, radishes can now be found across most of the globe but are most popular in Europe, Japan, and North America. The name for radishes may stem from the Greek “Raphanus,” which means “quickly appearing,” a tribute to the speed with which some radish varieties grow. Other sources claim the name “radish” comes from “radix,” which is the Latin term for “root.” Radishes are often one of the earliest spring crops as they only take a few weeks to grow from seed to maturity. Radishes have a distinct peppery flavor that comes from an enzyme in the plant’s skin. After all, radishes are related to mustards, so it is not altogether surprising that the two vegetables share flavor qualities. Although radishes range from purplish-black to multi-colored, most people are familiar with the small, round, red and white variety. Daikon radish is another popular variety most commonly associated with Asian cuisine.

Growing Tips
Like most members of the cabbage family, radishes are quite cold tolerant and grow well in cool conditions. Direct seed as soon as soil can be worked in the spring–transplanting is not recommended. Seeds should be planted no deeper than ½ inch. For a steady supply of radishes, sow seeds approximately every two weeks. You may want to avoid growing radishes midsummer, as heat will cause them to become tough. Thin seedlings to allow room for roots to grow. Radishes appreciate well-drained, stone-free soil and frequent weeding. Keep plants well watered. To avoid flea beetle damage, protect young radishes with floating row cover. Harvest promptly when roots are about the size of a golf ball.

Upon harvest or purchase, radishes should be trimmed of their tops (which are also edible), wrapped loosely in plastic, and stored in the crisper drawer. Radishes will store better if not sopping wet, so avoid washing them until you are ready to use them. Radishes will keep well for more than a week in the refrigerator, but they are best when eaten as soon as possible.

Always choose radishes that feel firm and look unblemished. If the tops are still attached when you purchase them, the leaves should be bright green and un-wilted. Most radishes are ready to eat after washing. You may want to peel larger, tougher radishes, such as winter storage varieties, before eating. Much of a radish’s flavor and nutritional value is in the peel, however, so eating the whole root is recommended.

Nutritional Benefits
Radishes are very small and composed primarily of water, so it can be difficult to take in significant quantities of nutrients from radishes alone. Nonetheless, radishes are low in calories but high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, folic acid, calcium, and potassium. They also contain the
minerals magnesium and copper.

To receive more recipes and tips on your favorite fruits and vegetables, download Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook.

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