Spring is the time for radishes in the school garden. At least, in Ottumwa this spring has been full of radishes. Together, students planted radishes, watched radishes grow, harvested and tasted some raw radishes, and saw some radishes bolt and go to seed in the sudden heat wave. One of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the springtime, radishes are brightly colored, beautiful and inviting. But they also have a distinctive peppery bite that intimidates some tasters. That spicy kick is the reason why lots of kids at Prime Time Youth Care gave me wary looks and even a couple cries of protest when, a couple weeks ago, I told them we would be preparing and tasting a radish salad.
To be fair, this salad contained not only radishes, which the students KNEW were spicy because we had tasted them raw the week before with mixed reactions, but other intimidating vegetables as well (I’m looking at you, kohlrabi). But to everyone’s surprise, including mine, this salad was a huge huge hit. The older kids who prepared the salad loved it. When there was a lot left over they offered it to the younger students, who also loved it. I offered some to parents who came to pick up their students. I sent home recipes. This week at our summer gardening program a girl told me her family made the radish salad at home. This salad changed hearts and minds. Here is the recipe:
1 bunch (about 1.5 cups) radishes, chopped into small cubes
1 large bulb of kohlrabi, peeled and cubed
1 medium cucumber, cubed
1/2 red onion, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt and black pepper to taste
Students can help chop up all the vegetables. Add everything into a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle salt and pepper over the vegetables. Mix well, then serve and taste together. Have seconds, thirds, spread the news about this delicious radish salad through the whole school, share with families and send home recipes. Try other radish recipes. Enjoy the freshly harvested spring radish deliciousness for as long as you can, until the summer heat makes all your remaining radishes go to seed. Finally, bid a tearful farewell to radish season and embrace all the opportunities that summer vegetables have to offer.
Have a rad summer.