Everybody’s trying to eat more vegetables, but it’s so difficult to try new ones. Before you have even tasted a new type, your mind has already put up those walls.
This is sadly the case when it comes to radishes and beets too. However, if you actually try them, you will find that they are some of the most flavorful and unique vegetables you will ever come across.
But, did you know that radishes and beets aren’t the same vegetable? And no, they’re also not variants of each other – they are actually different types of vegetables.
So, what is the difference between a radish and a beet? Radishes and beets are two different vegetables. While radishes are classified as non-root vegetables, beets are true root vegetables. Radishes are much smaller than beets and also have a much more spicy and pungent flavor.
In this article, we will go deep into the differences and similarities of these two vegetables, not only physically, but also when it comes to taste. We will also look at different ways to cook, serve, and pair both radishes and beets.
What Are Radishes?
Radishes are one of the most underrated vegetables ever.
Just like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, these have been given a bad rep over the past few decades because of their unique taste.
Radishes are classified as an edible root vegetable. Root vegetables are vegetables that grow underground.
Although radishes aren’t classified as true roots (taproots and tuberous roots), as they are a plant species of their own, they still fall under the same category as bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, and corms.
Radishes have many different subspecies, like daikon radishes and black radishes, but today we will be looking more specifically at the traditional small red radish we all know.
While the color of the peel/skin of radishes differs, the flesh is often a stark white, with a few exceptions. They also have long stems and leaves growing above them, but these aren’t as popular as beet greens.
You can find many different colors when it comes to radishes, the most common being white and red/pink.
Radishes are globular in shape and average around 1 inch in diameter. Of course, you can get larger and smaller versions, but they aren’t as common.
The taste is very unique and there are very few ingredients that even come close; radishes have a spicy bite to them with a lingering sweet aftertaste.
Some people also describe it as peppery. The best way to make your own decision on radishes is to try them yourself.
Radishes can be cooked but are more popular in their raw form. They are used in many dishes and in many different ways.
Radishes don’t have a wide range of textures. Usually, they are raw (crunchy and refreshing), pickled (soft and crunchy), or cooked (very soft).
What Are Beets?
Beets have been around for thousands of years and still, not many people are familiar with them.
The beet, or beetroot, is the taproot part that grows from a beet plant.
The taproot is what grows directly under the stem and from which many other roots grow.
For example, a carrot is also a taproot vegetable. At the bottom, and even around the whole carrot, there are sometimes tiny roots growing. A beet is exactly the same.
Taproot vegetables grow underground. The leaves that grow above the ground are also edible and are usually referred to as “beet greens.”
Beets, like all other vegetables, have many different variants. The most common one, and what you probably know best, is the common red/purple beetroot. These are beautiful, but some varieties are even prettier.
The golden beet, which is yellow/golden in color, is a very pretty varietal and has become much easier to find. Another beautiful varietal, and possibly our favorite, are the candy cane beets which have red and white stripes.
Having so many varietals to choose from makes it so easy to decorate your plate or dish with gorgeous colors.
Beets are usually large bulbs; you can only fit one or maybe two in one hand. Baby beets have also become increasingly popular and most of the varietals can easily be found in miniature versions.
Beet microgreens, or beet sprouts, are the young greens of beets before they have even developed a bulb yet. These are also becoming more and more popular.
To explain the fullness of the taste of beets, we have another article for you. In short, beets have a very earthy taste and some people even say they’re a little bitter, but that is where the art of food comes in.
You don’t necessarily have to or even want to hide the taste, but you can easily do so by using different cooking methods or by combining the beets with different ingredients.
Beets are naturally tough and crunchy, and we wouldn’t recommend eating them raw. However, once you cook beets, they become much softer.
What’s amazing about beets is that you can cook them to different stages. You can cook them until they are all the way soft or still have a bit of crunch, blanch them, or cook them into a mush.
What’s The Difference?
Besides being a completely different species of vegetables, there are many other differences between a radish and a beet.
Scientifically, a radish is classified as the species Raphanus raphanistrum, whereas a beet is the species Beta vulgaris.
Then there is also the very obvious difference in look. Yes, they are both round and usually both red/purple. However, they still look very different.
The average beet is still much larger than the biggest radish and has more of a slightly bumpy and uneven surface.
Radishes also have lighter shades of color, whereas the beets have a much deeper and darker shade. The flesh of radishes is almost always white whereas the flesh of beets is the same color as the skin.
Although you can use these two vegetables in very similar ways, they still have very different flavor and texture outcomes. Beets have a more earthy and neutral taste, compared to the peppery-sweetness of a radish.
Radish Vs. Beet – Comparison [Chart]
|0.75–1.25 inches in diameter
|2-3 inches in diameter
|Red/pink, white, purple, yellow
|Varying shades of red, pink, purple, and yellow/golden
|Same color as the flesh or striped red and white
|Edible, but not often consumed
|Edible and very often used during cooking
|Peppery, spicy, slight sweetness
|Earthy, slightly bitter, and sweet
These are the very noticeable differences between radishes and beets. Now, let’s take a look at how you should prepare and eat these two delicious vegetables.
How to Cook Radishes and Beets
Vegetables are very diverse ingredients when it comes to cooking methods.
The biggest problem when it comes to radishes and beets is trying to incorporate them into meals.
While this isn’t necessarily a difficult task, you need to take into consideration their unique flavors, otherwise, you will just end up with a weird-tasting meal.
The most common, and sorry to say the most boring, way to cook both radish and beets is by boiling them.
Boiling vegetables is a great way to cook them evenly, but for these vegetables, it doesn’t do much in the way of bringing out new flavors.
While boiling may be the easiest option, roasting can certainly be the most flavorful and rewarding method.
Roast these vegetables on 400˚F for 20-40 minutes depending on the size. You can pre-peel them, but the skin is edible. Just make sure to wash off any dirt.
You can add a ton of flavor to these roasted veggies by adding some thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can even add a glaze, like balsamic dressing.
Our second favorite way to cook radishes and beets isn’t cooking in the traditional sense. These vegetables are great for pickling.
Allowing these vegetables to cure in some delicious sweet and sour mixture will not only elevate their texture but also their flavor. Pickling both neutralizes and enhances the unique flavors of these vegetables.
You can use pickled beets or radishes in many different ways. You can use them as a side dish or appetizer, in a salad, on a sandwich, or as a simple garnish. The possibilities are endless!
Deep-Fried or Air-Fried
Yes, we know this isn’t the healthiest option and defeats the purpose of eating these healthy vegetables, but fries and chips are probably the tastiest veggie snacks you will ever eat.
Thinly slice your radish or beetroot on a mandolin and deep-fry those slices. Once you’ve removed them from the fryer, sprinkle them with salt and black pepper.
You can also opt for the air fryer and make them into potato-like chips, which may be a healthier option, depending on the recipe you choose. Most recipes include olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.
Although radishes have a pungent taste, if paired properly with the correct ingredients, they’re delicious!
Raw radishes, and beetroots, can go great in many refreshing dishes like salads. It brings something extra that elevates the other flavors present.
A good mix of different colored variants will also turn a boring salad into a vibrant, eye-pleasing, and appetizing centerpiece.
Just be careful not to pair it with other ingredients that have a very sharp and harsh taste.
Also, make sure not to use large pieces. Our suggestion would be to either slice them thinly or make small cubes.
Beet juice is also a very popular healthy and nutritious ingredient in smoothies and juice blends.
Radishes and Beets in Dishes
These are very versatile ingredients, and if you’re looking for inspiration on what to make using them, here are our top recommendations.
- Garlic and rosemary roasted radishes
- Radish, fennel, and blue cheese salad with a delicious balsamic vinaigrette
- Radish and asparagus risotto
- Radish and kale soup
- Pickled radish with fennel and caraway seeds
- Tangerine and radish couscous saladCrispy radish chips or fries
- Roasted balsamic beets
- Creamy beet salad with feta and black pepper
- Balsamic beet salad with goat cheese, pomegranate, and sunflower seeds
- Beet, carrot and quinoa salad with arugula leaves
- Beet fritters
- Warm pear and beet salad with spicy chorizo
- Rarebit with beet and goats cheese
- Crispy beet chips or fries
As delicious as these ingredients may be, they are definitely ingredients that should accompany other dishes.
Radishes and beetroots serve as great ingredients to add to a whole dish and are rarely consumed alone. However, there are a few tricks to pair flavors with these unique ingredients.
Radishes have a very pungent and peppery taste.
Definitely avoid ingredients with similar characteristics. This means staying away from spicy ingredients like chili or other pungent ingredients like horseradish.
If you want to elevate the flavor of the radish, pair it with neutral-tasting ingredients like cucumber, tomato, fennel, etc.
Beets are much easier to pair. Although they have very an earthy taste, it fades away considerably during the cooking process.
This veggie can be easily incorporated into any dish, especially if it already contains a lot of other vegetables.
It goes great with creamy foods like goat cheese or cream cheese. It also pairs well with more pungent foods. Spices, especially, compliment them well.
Accompaniments for Radishes and Beets
Grains and pulses will always be the best accompaniments for beets and radishes, as they are for most vegetables.
They offer a neutral flavor for the main ingredient to take center stage. The texture is also very neutral and doesn’t compete with that of the radish and beet.
And there are also so many to choose from! Quinoa might be exactly what your roasted beets need, especially if they have lots of flavors already incorporated into them.
Other grains include barley, farro, lentils, different forms of rice, and couscous. These can all easily be found and easily flavored and served.
Nutrition of Radishes and Beets
Below we have made a chart on the nutritional value of 100g raw radish and beet and compared them side to side.
So, what does all this mean? To give you a better understanding of what all these vitamins and minerals actually do, have a look at our list below.
Health benefits of consuming radishes:
- Radishes contain great amounts of calcium and potassium, which help your body regulate blood pressure.
- They are a great source for anthocyanins, which are flavonoids and pigments that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- The high vitamin C content helps boost your immune system and can also act as an anti-inflammatory.
- Manganese helps regulate nerve and brain function.
- A high fiber content helps improve your digestion and promotes a healthy bowel.
Health benefits of consuming beets:
- Beets are very high in nutrients and very low in calories.
- Beets, like radishes, also help with blood pressure control.
- Beets are great if you want to fight inflammation.
- The high fiber content also helps improve your digestive health.
- Beets contain nitrates that help improve brain health, including cognitive and mental functions.
These are only some of the many health benefits of each of these vegetables. If you haven’t already, it’s time to include them in your diet!
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