Flavorful and nutritious, radish greens are the bonus leafy green that grows above ground from the familiar root vegetable. Radishes are grown throughout the world, typically in milder and cooler climates. The leaves can be small and round or long and serrated, depending on the variety of radish, and they make an excellent cooking green.
What Are Radish Greens?
Radish greens are the leafy tops of the radish plant. While we tend to focus on the colorful roots, the greens are edible and rich in nutrients as well. Radishes may be sold in bags with their tops removed, but they are often left intact. Fresh, healthy-looking greens are a sign that a bunch of radishes has been recently harvested and handled appropriately. The affordable greens can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, and simply need to be washed before eating.
How to Use Radish Greens
Radish greens can be used separately from their roots or combined together in a single dish. Young radish greens are tender and mild enough to eat raw in salads or can be blended into pesto. Mature radish greens may be slightly fuzzy, bitter, or tough when raw, but they make an excellent cooking green.
To prepare radish greens, remove the roots and reserve them for another use. Wash the leaves well to remove any soil or grit that may be clinging to the leaves. Dry the greens, then chop them as appropriate for your recipe. The greens are now ready to cook.
Radish greens can be added to dishes like curries, soups, stews, quiches, frittatas, and casseroles to add color and boost nutrition. They can also be sauteed, blanched, braised, or steamed on their own or with other cooking greens the same way you would prepare kale, Swiss chard, or turnip greens.
What Does It Taste Like?
Radish greens range in flavor from mildly vegetal to earthy and slightly spicy, often with an underlying bitterness that's not unpleasant. They're similar in flavor to turnip greens or mustard greens, though they're typically smaller in size. Cooking the greens and adding salt and acid to the final dish can balance the bitterness to your taste.
Radish Green Recipes
Radish greens have a lightly peppery, bitter, but mild flavor that blends in well with salad greens and cooked dishes. Try substituting all or part of the greens in the following recipes with radish greens:
- Quick and Easy Mustard Greens
- Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup
- Southern-Style Greens With Pepper Sauce
Where to Buy Radish Greens
Radish greens will be found in the produce section of most supermarkets, grocery stores, food co-ops, and natural foods stores, with standard red radishes being most common. Since they are often incorrectly considered an inedible byproduct, radish greens are typically sold with the roots still attached and are not marketed separately.
For a wider selection, look to your local farmers' market or farmstand. You're more likely to find varieties like watermelon, green, black, purple, and daikon radishes. Asian markets often have a wider selection of radish varieties, too.
Select radishes with firm, taut flesh, and fresh, perky greens. The leaves should be crisp, green, and intact, not wilted, yellowed, or tattered. You may see signs of insect damage (tiny holes in the leaves). This does not affect the flavor of the greens, but it may indicate a shorter shelf life, so make a note to use those greens sooner rather than later.
Red radishes sold for use in salads are the most common variety available at supermarkets. Since their leaves and the bunches they're sold in tend to be pretty small, it's best to plan on adding those greens to another dish or combining them with other greens in your cooking.
Other radishes that may be available are long, skinny French breakfast radishes, which have a delicate flavor and white-tipped roots. Easter egg radishes include a mix of pink, white, and purple radishes. Their greens are typically larger, but their flavor is similar to red radishes.
The greens of watermelon, green, black, purple, and daikon radishes are also edible. Keep in mind that these varieties usually have more strongly flavored greens than red radishes.
Radishes and their greens stay freshest when stored separately, as the roots will begin to soften more quickly with their tops on. Twist or cut off the tops, then wash and dry the greens, ideally using a salad spinner to remove moisture. Wash and dry the roots and store them in a separate plastic bag.
Store radish greens in a plastic bag with a paper towel inside it in your crisper drawer. They will keep for two to three days, so it's best to use them relatively quickly.
Much like radishes, radish geens contain fiber. They also contain calcium and potassium.
Radishes, raw, Fooddata central, United States Department of Agriculture