|Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus|
On a recent visit to the farmer's market to pick up our weekly CSA box, I was actually intrigued by the purple variety of this plant. I didn't actually know what I was looking at. The tapered ends reminded me of turnips. The greens did too! They resemble turnip greens in shape, only they are a little fuzzier. I pointed in the general direction of the small pile of plum colored plants and quickly asked Lillian, who co-owns and manages Garden Spot with her son, what in the world it was. To my surprise she replied that it was a purple variety of a daikon radish.
It was only then that I made the connection with the fuzzy nature of the leaves. Lillian told the that they had grown a small amount of this unusual vegetable as a test. She asked if I would be willing to try it out and let her know what I thought. Well, I'm generally game to try any new fruit or vegetable and can count on one hand how many I truly do not enjoy eating.
So, it was .... Game on!
How Good it is for you?
Any food with this coloring has to be good for you! As a whole food, plant based vegan I am constantly on the look out for color. I try literally to eat a rainbow each week. Generally vibrant colors spell "really nutritious, really healthy, and really fun flavors and textures". Daikon is used most often in a Korean condiment-like side dish known as kimchi.
According to Specialty Produce.com, the purple daikon is loaded with nutrients. Here is a direct quote from their website: " Purple daikon radish is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, particularly when eaten raw. Additionally they contain flavonoids and the antioxidant sulforaphane. Purple daikon also contains vitamin B6, folate, and minerals such as K, Ca, Mg, and iodine. The leafy greens of the Purple daikon are edible and offer a significant amount of vitamin C as well."
Wowzers! Seriously, that information alone makes me want to try it. But, you know what really made me want to try it? The color!
This is one lovely looking plant! The violet-fuschia exterior gives way to a creamy white mixed with just a hint of pale color on the interior.
Doesn't this make you want to eat it? My 13 year old sous chef by my side, I cut open. Our first thought upon cutting one open was, "We need to put this in a salad!" But, like true connoisseurs, our first concern was the taste. My side kick and I cut off some of the end root and we gave it a try. Although there was a hint of the traditional daikon flavor, we found it to be pleasantly muted in this variety. We appreciated that the same crisp texture which one would expect from a radish was evident.
Recipe #1: We immediately cut one of the three tubular roots up and put it on a raw vegetable platter. Those who wished, could either eat it raw or put it in their evening salad. I did both!
Recipe #2: We decided to try a traditional radish salad. Here is the link. http://www.foodfidelity.com/2017/10/30/purple-green-daikon-radish-salad
Here is a photo of my effort at this salad.
It was super easy to make.
I used carrots as an accent color. I used Bragg's aminos instead of soy sauce. The saltiness of the Bragg's aminos was the perfect foil to the spicy bite of the radishes, the sweetness of the sugar, and the tartness of the rice vinegar. It made a very generous amount of dressing. This salad would be a very elegant side dish to serve at a summer dinner party or picnic.
I couldn't let the leaves go to waste! You all know how I feel about using the greens of root vegetables. I have eaten radish leaves before and I honestly have a hard time getting past the "fuzzy" texture. However, as I mentioned earlier, this foliage has just a hint of texture. I decided to go with a tried and true traditional greens preparation, especially for our Mississippi Belle.
Bacon, onion, garlic, a splash of water and Bragg's aminos.
Cook them down until tender. Holy cow!! They were amazing! They did have a sort of salty, spicy taste. But, it was not overwhelming at all. My son's Southern, bacon-loving girlfriend highly approved of this application for greens.
Our Rating and Recommendations
The purple daikon got two thumbs up from most family members.
Those in the family already fond of the flavor and bite of a good radish definitely enjoyed this root vegetable. The traditional daikon flavor was definitely more muted in the purple version than the long, white one that you generally see in stores. The purple version was also smaller than the white version. This is probably good, since unless you really love radishes, you aren't going to buy purple daikons every week. The smaller size makes it easier to use, too, cutting just what you need and leaving additional roots whole until a later time. The leaves were a pleasant surprise and quite good.
We would rate it as a something that we would buy again.The color was inviting and will provide a vibrant splash of color to summer salads. The flavor was interesting, but not overpowering. If you are a radish lover, give the purple daikon a try.
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