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What’s new at the market? Scallions and radishes

Radishes. (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It’s been over a month since spring officially began — and our crocuses look lovely covered with a dusting of white snow. We don’t have anything in the garden yet. Our chives are barely poking out of the earth. But our farmers’ market welcomes spring with scallions and spring radishes.

Both are easy to grow. They mature quickly, just three to four weeks after planting. That’s why Juniper Hill and other area farms have them ready now.

Yes, they’ve had winter radishes since fall: spicy black radishes, pretty, zesty watermelons, mild daikon in purple and white. These root crops were harvested in late fall and stored through the winter.

Compared to their freshly harvested tender spring radishes, winter radishes are large and tough. Spring radishes are a seasonal treat, an explosion of flavor and a wonderful crunch. Varieties come in many shapes and colors. Red-skinned, round or oval-shaped varieties are the most common.

Scallions — also known as green onions in North America and spring onions in Europe and Australia — are simply immature onions. They’re milder in flavor than mature onions and add brightness and gentle zest to any dish. The whole plant, except for the root tip, can be used.

Scallions and radishes are popular in Asia, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. They’re common in stir-fries and fried rice and are used to flavor and garnish many dishes.

Scallions are nutritionally superior to onions. Ounce for ounce, the green leaves provide more vitamin A, C, folic acid, and the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium than does the mature bulb. Like all onions, they contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant important in cancer prevention.

Radishes are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamin C. A cruciferous vegetable, they have cancer-protecting properties, and they’re rich in many minerals like sulfur, iron and iodine.

To use scallions, cut away any wilted green parts and the root tip, and peel any loose skin around the white part. Rinse under running water and slice into the lengths you need. They cook quickly and add a last-minute flourish of color and flavor to almost any dish. Serve with a raw appetizer tray, add to salads, add at the last minute to soups, or use in Asian dishes and casseroles.

To prepare radishes, scrub them and trim off the stem end and root tip. All parts of the plant can be eaten. The leaves, if fresh and green, lend a peppery taste to salads and can be cooked like other greens or used in soups, stews, stir-fries and pasta dishes. Those fuzzy, peppery leaves make a delicious pesto.

The radish root bulbs are great raw in salads or with dips. Stir sliced radishes into potato, pasta, bean, tuna, chicken or egg salad for a different taste and texture. They combine well with other vegetables and meat and add an unexpected nip and crunch to stir-fries or pasta dishes. Add them during the last two or three minutes, so that they remain crisp.

Spring Pasta with Scallions and Radishes

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups ziti or other pasta

2 bunches radishes with greens

1 bunch scallions

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh parsley

1 teaspoon butter or oil

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon salt, divided

Directions:

Cook eggs to hard boil (5-7 minutes). Place in cold water, peel, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to boiling; add pasta, and cook until done (see package for directions).

Wash radishes and radish greens. Cut off root ends and cut in half or quarters. Wash scallions; cut off root ends and any wilted parts. Slice in half-inch lengths.

1n 1/2 Tablespoon butter or chicken broth, cook radishes and scallions for 3 – 6 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, chopped hardboiled eggs, diced cucumber, cottage cheese, sour cream, dill and remaining salt. Heat a couple minutes for cheese to melt and flavors to blend. Serve warm.

Egg Salad with Scallions and Radishes

Ingredients:

4 eggs

4 ounces radishes (about 1 or 1 1/2 cups, sliced)

2 – 3 scallions, white and green parts (about 1 cup, sliced)

2 cups cottage cheese

1 Tablespoon plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper)

Directions:

Cook, peel, and dice the eggs. Cut root ends off the radishes and slice thinly or chop coarsely. Cut roots and any wilted leaves off scallions and slice. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste to adjust sesonings. Serve with bread or crackers.

Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at yvonawrites@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Words are My World.

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