What is it and What do I do with it?
These lovely little brassica gems come in a variety of forms including daikon, watermelon, green, black Spanish, and red globe. The latter two tend to be the most peppery of the mix. The vitamin levels are more modest with 100g containing 25% of the RDA in Vitamin C and lower levels of others. Yet what it may lack in vitamins it makes up in anti-oxidants, electrolytes, minerals, and dietary fiber. These are commonly eaten raw individually or in salads, but can also be roasted, stir fried, steamed, or pickled. Try slicing thin and making a sandwich with a little butter and salt. The leaves are also full of nutrients and can mixed in a salad (much like arugula) or added to soups and curries. We would love to hear any tried and true dishes using the greens.
When the leaves are left attached nutrient density will migrate from the root to the leaves. Trimming the leaves and storing separately is a good approach. To use member Megan’s suggestion with storing kale (true for a majority of leaves) these will keep well in a plastic bag or container lined with a paper towel. This can also free up space in your crisper drawer. Also, a good way to check for freshness is by squeezing the root. When it begins to feel soft or show yellow it should be eaten soon.
These are best not peeled as the skin contains the highest levels of the anti-oxidant allyl-isothiocyanate. A good scrubbing with a vegetable brush is all that is necessary. This is true for all root vegetables such as carrots or beets. After that it is all about how you prepare it, be it halved, quartered, sliced, shredded, or simply eaten whole.
One simple cooking idea a dear friend in Portland tried recently and loved was simply trimming off the tops and bottoms, sautéing in a generous amount of butter for 20 minutes to about the consistency of a soft boiled potato. Add the greens for the last two minutes. She said “the whole dish is lovely with the contrasting greens and bright pink roots.” I will surely try this soon.