Ingredient Focus: All About Radishes

If you think of radishes as flavorless addition to a raw vegetable platter often ignored at parties, then you've got to give radishes another chance! Radishes are one of the most refreshing spring and summer ingredients. Their slightly peppery flavor and cool interior make for a delicious addition to spring greens or halved and dipped into Cayenne Pepper Liptauer Spread.

There are many different kinds of radishes that appear year round at your farmer's market. Right now you might be able to pick up a bunch of Plum Purple or Snow Bells, which are a variety of Red Globe radish. Breakfast Radishes are delicious too, with their cute name and attractive exterior. Halve breakfast radishes lengthwise, smear with a bit of butter, then sprinkle with sea salt Do it the french way and place these buttered radishes on top of a slice of baguette.

There five main varieties of radish starting with the smallest Red Globe. Other varieties include Black Radishes, Daikon, White Icicle, which are milder than Red Globes, and California Mammoth White radishes. Mix daikon into a healthy recipe of Roasted Roots & Fresh Sprouts.

Here are five great reasons to pick up a bunch of radishes this weekend:

* Low in calories: 1/2 cup of sliced raw radishes has only 12 calories * Versatile: Radishes have a great texture. Grate them into salads, top crostini with sliced radishes, and dip halves or quarters into healthy spreads like Chickpea-Eggplant Dip. * Their leaves are edible: Bright and crisp radish leaves make for tasty additions to salads, sautes and more. When you go to the market, look for leaves that are not wilting and are still bright green. * They're packed with nutrients: Radishes have potassium, vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber! * Daikon is anti-carcinogenic: Fight cancer by picking up a daikon this weekend. They grow to around 18 inches, so you'll have enough to make a delicious side. Read more about daikon's benefits from Holistic Nutrition Chef Rena Unger.

Photographer: Lindsay Hunt