Tony, Gio and I are in the process of preparing our soil for this year's gardening season, and we are already dreaming of the bounty we hope to harvest throughout the summer. Red radishes will be among the first to be reaped, and in anticipation of their arrival we have three simple and delicious recipes today that highlight their splendid color, flavor and versatility.

This spicy spring vegetable is a rich source of nutrients, including folate, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and riboflavin, to name a few . While often served raw in a salad or on a vegetable tray, radishes are also wonderful when quick-pickled in a simple brine of vinegar, sugar and salt, or oven-roasted with just a touch of minced garlic.

Our first recipe features just thinly sliced red radishes that are marinated in a simple brine of cider vinegar, sugar and kosher salt. This recipe can be prepared in about 10 to 15 minutes, and ready to serve in just an hour, but don't be fooled by its simplicity - with its pretty pink color and sharp, tangy flavor, this side dish is a major hit every time we serve it. In fact, at last year's Banquet in a Field event, we served second and third helpings until we ran out completely.

The second recipe is another quick-pickle, and is only slightly more involved than the first as it features a giardiniera-style mix of thinly sliced spring veggies that includes radishes, cucumbers, carrots and jalapeno pepper.

For this recipe, the brine consists of both cider and distilled white vinegars, which are brought to a simmer along with a bit of sugar and salt. The brine mellows the heat of the jalapenos, so that only a gentle kick of spice is present. Both pickled radish dishes are great on their own as a side dish, and we've also enjoyed them as a condiment on burgers, tacos or sandwiches.

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Slicing the vegetables paper-thin helps expedite the pickling process, and using a food mandoline for this purpose will greatly reduce the amount of time involved. The blade on a mandolin is extremely sharp, so use it with great care and always with the finger guard. You can find a decent mandoline for about $15 dollars at stores like TJ Maxx and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Our third and final recipe today features oven-roasted radishes, which are best enjoyed when served piping hot. Roasting the radishes helps to curb their spicy bite and draw out their natural sugars, making them tender, sweet and succulent.

For an elegantly rustic presentation, we like to leave a little bit of stem and tail on the radishes before tossing them with olive oil, lemon juice and just a bit of minced garlic.

However you slice them, radishes can be enjoyed in myriad ways and we hope these recipes will bring a burst of flavor, color and nutrition to your table this summer.

Easy Quick Pickled Radishes

Ingredients:

12 to 15 red radishes (about one bunch)

2/3 cup cider vinegar

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar and salt until well combined. Add the radishes and stir to evenly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Best when served within 24 hours.

Quick-Pickled Radish Giardiniera

Ingredients:

½ cup distilled white vinegar

½ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 bunches red radishes (about 20 to 25), washed clean

2 large carrots, washed and peeled

1 English cucumber or 2 mini cucumbers, washed, peel stays on

1 large jalapeno, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions:

In a small saucepot, add the two vinegars, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Use a food mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the radishes, carrots, cucumber and jalapeno into paper-thin rounds, then transfer veggies to a medium mixing bowl. Once cooled, pour the liquid mixture over the vegetables, and stir until evenly distributed.

Add the cilantro and stir to combine, then store giardiniera in a jar or airtight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Best when pickled for at least 4 hours before serving.

Oven-Roasted Radishes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 bunches red radishes (about 20 to 25), washed clean and cut in half from top to bottom

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss the radishes with the olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper and garlic until evenly coated. Lay radishes face-down on baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the radishes are almost fork tender and starting to brown around the edges.

Transfer to a medium serving bowl, toss with fresh parsley and serve hot.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 12-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.