Something about the French radish appeals more than the garden-variety kind. With their long tapering shape and bright red tops fading from pink into white, they are cuter than the familiar orbs. Their heat is milder, too — still there but never so strong that throwing a whole one into your mouth and chomping down causes you to rethink that way of snacking.
And maybe it’s their seasonality. Rarely seen in grocery stores, the French breakfast radish (its proper name) pops up at farmers markets heralding the arrival of early-season produce and disappearing as the heat picks up, unlike the common radish, which is shipped in and sold year-round at the grocer’s.
You could have the French breakfast radish in its namesake morning, but give it to me later, at lunch or dinner or a workday snack. The French way of eating it is most famous: whole, raw, with good, sweet butter and sea salt. (Keep the tops on, if you like. They’re edible. Or stir them into a salad.) A variation on that simple radish-butter-salt trio is a compound butter made from the finely minced vegetable, an idea picked up from “Flavored Butters” by Lucy Vaserfirer. Spread on a rustic bread, it’s heaven.
I like them sliced in the sandwich here for a light meal or snack. Too light for dinner? Pair it with gazpacho or another savory cold soup or chips on a hot day. The radish’s spice and cooling creamy cheese will satisfy.