The French breakfast radish is one of the more than 100 radish varieties. It has a similar appearance to the familiar cherry belle radish but instead of a bulbous shape, it is elongated with edible leafy greens on top. The French breakfast radish has a mild peppery flavor and crisp texture. It is often eaten raw but the radish can be cooked as well. French breakfast radishes are likely to be found at specialty organic markets.
- Edible Parts: both root and greens
- Originated in: France
- Distinctive Flavor: sweeter than common American radish
What Are French Breakfast Radishes?
French breakfast is the name of an heirloom cultivar of radish that was introduced in 1879 and became a popular radish in Paris produce markets. It is oblong, between two and four inches in length. This radish has a reddish-pink color, similar to the salad radishes popular in the U.S., with a white tip at the root and bright leafy greens. Where the North American salad radish is peppery and spicy, the French breakfast radish is much milder with a sweeter flavor.
Although named "French breakfast," the French do not eat radishes as part of their first meal of the day. They do eat them as a snack, sometimes dipped in salt, sometimes lightly buttered and then dipped in salt, and sometimes sliced and served on a toasted, buttered baguette along with a sprinkling of salt. The Germans eat radishes similarly, although they're known to wash this snack down with a cold beer.
How to Use French Breakfast Radishes
To serve French breakfast radishes in the traditional Parisian manner, you need the radishes, bread, butter, salt, and pepper. Simply trim off the leafy tops, leaving a bit of stem still attached, wash and dry the radishes thoroughly, and then place them in a bowl. Toast really good, crusty bread, ideally a light, crackly baguette, and spoon some sweet butter into a small dish and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Holding the radish by the stem, take a bite; while chewing, butter some bread, and then take a bite of that. That is how radis beurre et pain grillé, also known as radishes with buttered toast, is enjoyed.
The radish can also be part of a crudite platter or sliced and added to a salad. The greens can be used raw in a salad as well or cooked along with other leafy greens.
How to Cook With French Breakfast Radish
Just like with ordinary red radishes, cooking brings out the sweetness in a French breakfast radish, and roasting and sautéeing are common methods of preparation. It should be washed, and the leafy greens removed before cooking. The radish can be roasted whole or sliced and sautéd to serve as a side dish. It can also be part of a stir-fry, cooked along with other vegetables, or even added into a puréed vegetable soup.
The French breakfast radish can also be pickled or braised. The greens can be chopped and cooked separately, or the entire radish—root and leaves—can be enjoyed in a dish.
What Do They Taste Like?
French breakfast radishes are milder and sweeter than common red radishes while still retaining a hint of that peppery, mustardy piquancy that is associated with radishes. Spring and fall radishes will be milder than ones grown in summer—the warmer the soil, the spicier the radish.
French Breakfast Radish Recipes
Radishes are crispy and flavorful eaten out-of-hand, add color, flavor, and texture to salads, and are ideal as a vegetable dipper with guacamole. They can also be cooked for a less spicy and sweeter flavor.
Where to Buy French Breakfast Radishes
French breakfast radish is technically a spring radish, but it can be grown all year round. Springtime, however, is when it is more abundant and at its sweetest, and when it is most readily available. Some supermarket produce departments will sell it by the bunch or pound, especially the higher-end outlets that focus on fresh produce. Otherwise, the best bet is to wait for the French breakfast radish to show up at local farmers' markets.
French breakfast radish is also easy to grow and will mature quickly in about four weeks from seed. It can be planted in either early spring or late summer.
The most practical way to store fresh radish is to trim off the roots and leaves, wrap the unwashed radish in a damp paper towel, seal it in a plastic zipper bag, and store it in the refrigerator. They'll last for a week or two this way. Make sure to only wash it right before using it since washing can cause it to go soft in the fridge.
Another method is to trim off the roots and the leaves and store the radish in a bowl of water in the fridge. Storing the radish in water will keep it crisp, but keeping a bowl of water in your fridge may not be the most practical method. To store radishes for a longer period, try pickling them.