Wild radishes grow more or less everywhere in the Bay Area
My most recent discovery: Wild Radish seed pods
As if the delicious leaves and flowers the wild radish provides weren't enough, here they come with seedpods. I like to forage radish seed pods and saute them up to garnish a salad, but they can also be steamed.
Wild Radish is English for Raphanus raphanistrum. It is a winter annual with leaves covered in short stiff hairs. It grows more or less everywhere in the Bay Area. When you look out into a field covered with small white or yellow flowers, its probably wild radish. We often find them on our Wild Food Walks.
Wild Mustard (Brassica kaber) grows in the same area, and can be distinguished by its yellow flowers. The problem is that wild radish and mustard like to interbreed (hybridize if you will), to such an extent, that you rarely see either pure white or pure yellow flowers. Generally they're white with yellow or purple interior tint. I personally don't think it really matters. I've noticed that plants that seem more mustard than radish have leaves that are more tender, and a bit spicier. The seedpods seem more or less the same.
Once you find a good patch of pods, its easy to collect a couple pounds in 20 minutes. The technique I've settled on is to grab the stem close to the base, and slide my hand up, pulling off pods into my hands as I go. It's incredibly satisfying to hear the pop pop pop as they slide off the stem. I like to saute them and use them on a salad slightly warm or chilled. They are always good. Unfortunately, it's August and the season for these has pretty much passed (although I was up at Mt. Tam leading a plant walk on Sunday, and saw a couple), so store this knowledge away for next year.
Here is a recipe, with bacon, for these delicious little treasures.
1/2 lb (4-5 hand fulls) of seed pods
1/2 lb bacon (Get it from bi-rite or some other reputable source. We're lucky to have a great local meat economy in the bay, its a shame not to use it. Know your meat!)
4-6 heads little gem greens (Marin Roots has the best, but not cheap)
8 Nasturtium flowers
2.5 oz Stilton Blue Cheese (about 3 Tbsp)
6 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
Add vinegar and cream, then whisk together with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves, and then whisk in half of the cheese. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add seasoning to taste
Cut the bacon into 1 inch chunks, and cook over medium heat until it releases some of its fat. Throw in Seed pods, and saute until tender (about 4 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste.
Wash and dry the Little Gems
Cut off the end, and, using your hands, toss in mixing bowl with 2 Tbsp dressing and 1/4 C seed pods. Arrange on plate, with 2 nasturtium flowers. Crumble remaining cheese on top.
- Unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures of this salad, but if you make it, be sure to send me a photo, I'll put it on my site.
- Here are more photos to help you spot Wild Radishes.