Spring has officially sprung in the Pacific Northwest and that makes local food geeks like me giddy for several reasons:
Spring Is My Favorite Season For Local Vegetables
Fresh, spicy greens, beautiful French breakfast radishes, the cutest baby veggies (beets, carrots), sweet, succulent sprouts and peas; it’s heaven. What better way to pull us out of the winter than the cleansing, fresh foods of spring?
It’s Time For CSAs.
Right now is the best time to sign up with a local farmer to receive a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.
CSAs are where you sign up with a local farmer at the beginning of the season and receive a weekly box of seasonal produce — and the excitement feels like Christmas every week. It’s the most direct way to support local farmers, it’s a great value, and a fun way to eat with the seasons. I’m looking forward to getting weekly deliveries right to the office!
RADISHES, RADISHES, RADISHES.
Spicy, delicious jewels that they are — and also the featured Harvest of the Month item for May. Harvest of the Month is a program that started in schools, where a local produce item was featured on school menus. Now you can also find the item on restaurant menus and featured in grocery displays, farmers markets, and around the community each month. It’s shining the light on seasonal produce and giving our thanks to farmers, as well as helping us learn more about what grows well in our region and how we can intentionally eat more with the seasons.
My first experience with radishes was from my story book of fairy tales, and the tale of Rapunzel:
A young mother-to-be has an obsession with the ruby-red radishes her neighbor next door grows and can’t be without them. Her dutiful husband goes out every night to quietly snip radishes for his eager wife to enjoy. Until one night, the next-door neighbor, who turns out to be an evil witch, catches the husband in his nightly ritual and declares that because he has taken something precious of hers, she will take something precious from him — his firstborn child! What a fee for a few radishes! Thus, Rapunzel is thrown in a tower.
The yearning glimmer in the mother’s eye for radishes stuck with me, and to this day, I often treasure radishes as the precious red jewels the story depicted.
Radishes are usually eaten raw or in salads, or with dip. They can also be sautéed or roasted along with other root vegetables. Radishes are great for adding a bit of crunch and zest to any recipe. And can we talk about the greens? Yes, you can eat radish greens! Not only are they incredibly nutritious, it’s an awesome way to get the most value from your food.
Radishes are also an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source of fiber, potassium and zinc.
The recipes below are both simple and delicious. You can find most of the ingredients at our local farmers markets too! Happy Vitamin D, and here’s to celebrating the bounty of our region.
A fun new way to try radishes mixed with other fresh flavors, giving a new, zesty spin on more traditional salsas. Recipe modified from Mark Bittman.
1 pound radishes, cut into small cubes
½ cucumber, cut into small cubes
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh chili (like jalapeno or serrano),
seeds removed for less spice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
• Add all ingredients to a bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste.
• Taste and add more chili, lemon or salt as needed.
• Serve with chips or crackers of choice.
Baguette Slices with Mandolined Radishes, Butter and Sea Salt
A simple, yet delightful addition to a spring brunch, lunch, potluck or picnic
1 Breadfarm Baguette, cut into slices
1 bunch radishes, mandolined or sliced thin
2 Tbsp Breckenridge Farm butter
Sea salt sprinkled on top
What to do with radish greens
Don’t throw them away! One way to get the most from your grocery budget is to use ALL of the vegetable, and not only are radish green perfectly edible, they can make a peppery and delicious addition to many recipes. Radish greens tend to wilt quickly, so it’s best to remove from the radishes, wash and store in a plastic bag, and use within a few days. Here are some ideas to use those greens:
• Sauté with onions and add to an egg scramble
• Add to a stir-fry
• Make radish leaf pesto — substitute for any other herb in the recipe
• Add to soups
• For a full CSA Farm List, visit eatlocalfirst.org
• For a list of what’s in season and farms that offer products, pick up a new Whatcom Food & Farm Finder
• The Bellingham Farmers Market runs every Saturday through December from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
•The Twin Sisters Farmers Market (Deming & Kendall), Ferndale Farmers Market and Lynden Farmers Market all start in June