Radishes, of one variety or another, are a veggie we see throughout the seasons at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Despite this year-round presence, it’s in the spring months when varieties like Cherry Belle, Amethyst, French Breakfast and Easter Egg are at their best. Spring radishes have a crisp, firm texture and less spicy heat than their later-season counterparts, making them a great complement to other springtime favorites like asparagus, English peas and tender baby lettuces.
Farmer Bill Crepps at Everything Under the Sun Farm says that his favorite of all the varieties he grows is the deep purple Amethyst radish. “It’s got a good, sweet flavor, and it’s not as spicy as some of the red ones can be,” Bill told me. “We are harvesting them smaller right now, but as they season goes on and they get bigger, they will keep that firm texture and flavor and won’t get pithy like some of the other varieties can.”
Chefs Joshua Calsmer and Evan Bloom of Wise Sons Delicatessen think that Bill’s Ameythst radishes are the perfect ingredient for their Chinese Chicken Salad. I ran into the duo at Bill’s booth this week and they told me why. “Beyond the flavor, which is a good balance of sweet and spicy, we like the Ameythst ones because the color is such a nice contrast to the chicken and green cabbage.” They are not alone in loving these purple gems, it seems. As I stood there chatting with Bill about radishes, chefs from Saison, Range and Perbacco also flocked to his stand to pick up some for their own kitchens.
In addition to the radish bulbs themselves, don’t miss out on their tender green tops, which are excellent braised, in soups and as a pesto. For more info about the types of radishes you’ll find at the market, as well as radish-based recipes, visit the CUESA website.