Converting a Kid to Vegetables, One Purple Radish at a Time

I need help.

(Pausing here to give friends and family time for their inevitable jokes.)

Done? Today I need very specific help, the kind of help I’d get from Pooh’s friend Rabbit if he existed. If I could knock on his rabbit hole door or find him in his garden tending to the cabbage and whatnot, I would introduce myself and ask him for advice.

“Please tell me,” I’d say, “what to do with radishes.”

And not just what to do with them, but how to cook them in such a way that delights and entices a 3-year-old boy who refuses to eat any vegetable except raw baby carrots. (SEE, RABBIT, YOU’RE THE PERFECT MAMMAL FOR THE JOB!) Incidentally, the same child also refuses to eat any meat except his father’s homemade meatballs, and then “only the hard parts” around the edges that have been fried to a garlicy crisp in olive oil. (OK, he’ll eat the occasional hot dog, bacon slice and Chicken McNugget, but we can’t really count those as meat now can we?)

He’s a fantastic fruit eater, I’ll give him that, but veggies he won’t touch. Not even potatoes, sliced and fried, with ketchup. So imagine my shock and awe when he picked up a clump of radishes in the grocery store the other day and said “I want these.”

“What?” I asked, barely paying attention, busy searching for the fresh basil.

“These. What are these? I want to try them,” he said, thrusting them at me, then scampering off to fondle and drop as many peppers as he could.

“These are radishes,” I said as I honest-to-God CHECKED THE LABEL TO MAKE SURE, as these radishes were quite a bit more colorful than I thought radishes normally were but let’s be honest I’ve never bought a radish before, not even when a recipe I was making called for radishes. Turns out these radishes are more colorful; they’re “Easter Egg Radishes,” a clump of brilliant purple and pink and white and red root vegetables I had absolutely no idea what to do with.

My first instinct was to put them back. He’s never going to eat these, and in two minutes he’s going to forget he even picked them up, I thought.

“Um, Kostyn, are you sure you want these, or are you just pretending?” I asked. He didn’t reply, and I placed them back on the shelf and went over to the peppers instead. “You want to help me pick some peppers, we can grill them, they’re really yummy.”

“No, Mommy, I want those.” He pointed back to the radishes. I walked back over and picked them up.

“These are radishes, honey. You’ve never had them before. Would you really like to try them?” I said. “If I buy them I want you to try them, OK?”

“Yes I will I will I will” he said in that dismissive way that a child says something when he just wants the parent to stop talking already and move on. I was still doubtful that he’d eat them, and there was no price listed for these pretty puppies, but I felt I had no choice but to buy them. I wasn’t about to deny the child the only vegetable he’d ever been inclined to put in his mouth, no matter how fleeting that desire may be.

So they’re here now. In my fridge. (They should be refrigerated, yes?) They’re just staring at me each day as I ponder what to do with them. Should I cook them at all, or just slice them raw? I’m sure I could find several quality recipes for radishes online, but I want to do something with these things I know someone out there has actually made and a child has actually eaten and liked. This could be a moment here, people. This could be the Vegetable That Made Kostyn Stop Refusing All Vegetables. It could be his Green Eggs and Ham! "Try them! Try them and you may. Try them and you may, I say!"

So since I can’t ask Rabbit I thought I’d ask you, as many of you are parents and most of you are far more culinarily inclined than I am. I mean we're talking about radishes here, not some exotic vegetable nobody's ever heard of. I'm just really that lame in the kitchen, which brings me full circle, back to the part where I need help: 

How should I “wow” my son with these colorful radishes?


Sheila said...

He couldn't'a picked up broccoli that you could slather in butter, or even brussel sprouts that you could sautee in bacon grease, huh? My suggestion would be to try to do some sort of slaw with radish shreds. Or, maybe stick it in with macaroni like a cold pasta salad? Look at me - I haven't cooked a meal in I don't know how long and here I am doling out advice!

Carol said...

I've only ever had radishes raw, and I have to admit, I don't like them. But my siblings did, even as kids... so there's hope that Kostyn might. If I was serving them up for Noah, I think I'd cut them up to look like toadstools (pare off the bottom half into the stem of the mushroom, and then shave some white spots into the red skin of the top half) since he is a HUGE Mario Brothers fan. It's pretty common to cut them into roses too. I think you just make slits in the top and then soak it in water so it unfurls a bit.

Amy said...

i ate radishes as a kid because my mom made them look pretty. probably the roses that carol mentioned in her post. i hope he likes the radishes!

Lyn said...

The only thing that ever worked for Leah was drowning whatever veggie we wanted her to eat in cheese...I don't think that will work very well with radishes!

Lyn said...

i did just see a recipe for radish and carrot salad...basically just carrots and radish shredded together...if he likes the carrots already it might work...also, does he like ranch dressing? Leah will dip anything into ranch...maybe that is an idea, too!

Anonymous said...

I'm coming at this late. But Aiden loves them raw sliced with salt. One thing that's really worked well for us is growing veggies and herbs that the little guy can help himself to or can harvest for dinner. He loves showing the neighborhood kids how you can just break off a bit of chive, or mint, or a pea pod and eat it.

Bridget J