How To Love The Things You Hate

I don’t like radishes. Hate may be going too far but I have never once had a memorable encounter with one. They’re the food equivalent of chaperons at a high school dance, tolerated but not celebrated. The more they stay by the sidelines (whether in a salad or a gymnasium) the better.

But I saw a bunch of radishes the other day at the market, and there was something about their fuschia beauty and golf ball strength that got my attention. Their pink tails were sticking up in the air like a mouse halfway into a hole, their greens were emerald. I have about as much self control at a farmers market as I do when presented with a spoon and a pint of  mint-chip ice cream, so with no more room in my bag and no idea what I’d ever do with them, I bought them. Some people are like this with shoes. I’m like this with vegetables.

Once home, I knew if I did what I’d always done (eat them whole or chop them up in big chunks into a salad) they’d soon find their way to the compost, so I tried something new – I fried them  – ok sautéed them. In butter. A little salt. Transformed! They of course soften but they also loose their spicy heat and become something altogether different. It’s like when you see a side to someone that you’d never seen before and you wonder how you’d missed it.

Their picture is above. As you may have gathered from the last post, I’m going through a bit of a sauerkraut phase, so sauerkraut joined them. Apple (that also got sautéed) lent a sweet note to the ‘kraut and the lentils made it a full meal. See the how-to, here.

Having now changed my mind about the useless radish, I was on a tear to see what else I could do with them. Try this: slice them, broil them, salt them and you get “radish chips”.  (Potato chips minus pretty much 100% of the calories. Toss them with a touch of olive oil pre-broil if you wish – which will add a few calories to this virtually calorie-less food.)

The next day I went back to sauteeing them, and added them to arugula. See the full recipe here.

I’m a big believer that the more foods we come to love, the more we want to cook and the more enjoyable it is to eat well. (Radishes, by the way, are high in Vitamin C, folic acid and potassium). This whole radish-second-chance thing made me think about all the foods I have detested over the years but come to love – and it’s not just a case of my taste buds growing up, my enduring love of Arrowroot cookies kills that theory …

A few more foods in the “I-hated-until” category:

  • Kale until I had mild Red Russian, flash-sautéed with nothing more than olive oil and salt
  • Sardines until I had them so off-the-boat-fresh they had zero fish smell or taste (oh and they were lightly breaded, and gently sautéed which, now that I think about it, may have had more to do with my love for them than their freshness)
  • Sushi until I discover you could ask for extra ginger (Age twenty-three)
  • Eggs until I had them scrambled with onions  (Age twelve)
  • Broccoli until it was served with cheese sauce (Age eight)

What have you hated until you loved it?

Related Posts

Another Outstanding Lentil Dish (Lentil Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms)


The Joy Of Bacteria (The health benefits of sauerkraut and other fermented foods)


Apple, Sage, Zucchini Omelet (Another dish where an apple adds a lot)



Get Posts By Email

  • Belinda @zomppa

    Oh…my list is long – and still ongoing!! But yes, I have noticed how my tastebuds have definitely changed (a little slower than most people….)

  • Anonymous

    I did not like radishes until a couple years ago either! But now with a little fleur de sel I love them! Two other I-hated-it-until-I-liked-it ones were cauliflower (at 38 I tried it fried in a pita with lemon juice and now I roast it all the time particularly with white truffle oil) and brussel sprouts, which I just started liking at 43!! Fried brussel sprouts at Academia del Vino in NYC won me over. Now I roast them, fry them…you name it. I’m obsessed!

    • Michelle Madden

      I am convinced that ANYONE who doesn’t like brussels sprouts has only ever had them boiled – with the life boiled out of them. One bite of a well roasted (and salted) brussels sprout and I challenge the most strident brussels sprouts hater to NOT fall in love.

    • Michelle Madden

      I am convinced that ANYONE who doesn’t like brussels sprouts has only ever had them boiled – with the life boiled out of them. One bite of a well roasted (and salted) brussels sprout and I challenge the most strident brussels sprouts hater to NOT fall in love.

      • SaraC

        I used to have bsprouts too, but we just made some last night roasted with bacon–amazing! (K, Momofuku does amazing friend bsprouts as well.) I didn’t like cauliflower until the fiance introduced me to cauliflower “cous cous,” a gluten-free alternative to pasta. I can’t wait to try radish chips. Now can you do something with beets? Yeck.

        • Sara C

          Oops, that was supposed to be “fried” brussels sprouts. I guess they are “friend” too.

        • Michelle Madden

          Can I do something with beets?! Why, yes! I just came back from dinner where I had beets that were roasted in a bit of cider vinegar, then drizzled with curry laced honey, with a side of goat cheese.. I’ll try to recreate the recipe and post it. If you dont fall in love with beets this way, then you truly may be destined to live beet-free….

      • Sarah

        I always thought I hated brussels sprouts too. My mom always boiled them to death or put them in a holiday dish with grand marnier. Barf. Then I had them at a great restaurant here in Portland. They were shredded and probably sauteed in butter with shallots and they were amazing. Actually, growing up I thought that I hated all vegetables because my mom always just boiled them. Then when I started cooking for myself I discovered how much I actually love vegetables. They just need to be cooked in a way that doesn’t suck all the life out of them.

      • Mag

        Oh boy, challenge excepted! This is my most disliked vegetable of them all.

  • Anna

    When I am at the farmer’s market I often think of women who can’t resist a pair of shoes. I am the same way with veggies at the market. No room? Only a couple of dollars left? I still can’t resist.

  • Danee

    I HATE broccoli but always ate it until about a year ago when my daughter took bite and said “oh that is good” Good? People like broccoli? I thought we all were eating it in solidarity. From that day forward I have refused to eat it.

    Asparagus I always hated until I roasted it- yummy. I hate radishes and get it from my CSA so I look forward to trying your ideas.

    • Anc425

      I hated asparagus too! My mom always bought canned asparagus and I couldn’t understand how anyone could like something so mushy. Then I tried fresh asparagus and I cannot get enough!

      • Michelle Madden

        Ok, that is so disgusting! How can manufacturers get away with selling that stuff! There should be a food law passed where the following items are banned from being sold in tins: asparagus, beets, mushrooms, green beans, and peaches.

  • Amanda

    people are going to think i’m nuts, but raw tomatoes…until i discovered the divine secrets of heirloom tomatoes. i now know why i couldn’t eat those not-ripe, waxy red things in the grocery store…my stomach knew better. on another note, you should try braised radishes too…my favorite and made me radish-a-holic!

    • Michelle Madden

      What’s your special recipe for braised radishes and how/with what do you eat them?

  • debbie

    When I first saw your post on my g-reader I thought, “I hate radishes!”. Then I saw that you were actually going to talk about them. I love their color… and going to farmers markets. But after reading your post their may be some hope for them and me. I pomise to give them another try. If I still hate them, they do make a pretty still life, and I will happily paint them.

  • Three-Cookies

    I hate celery root, I bought it once only and with much reluntance had to throw it away. I guess over time I will slowly start to appreciate them more, or realise that life goes on fine without them:)

    • Marti

      Celeriac is really great to use in soup. I have a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for the perfect veggie soup and it calls for celeriac. Give it a go!

  • kate loar

    I despised onions for years. Now, I can’t get enough of them! The only veggie I haven’t been able to master is raw tomatoes.

    • Michelle Madden

      Here’s the key with raw tomatoes … NEVER eat them out of season! There is no chance that the hot house grown tomatoes, grown without soil, inside, picked well before they’re ripe, ripened artificially with gases and trucked thousands of miles, will ever taste good!

      But find a field grown tomato in season (which in the NE means Aug/Sept), get it when it’s ripe, add a touch of salt, maybe some basil and mozarella, and it is an entirely different beast. It need not be heirloom for it to taste divine, it just must be in season … and grown in a field. And dont forget the salt.

      • Aquaria

        The very smell of tomatoes turns my stomach. It smells like dirty underwear in a gym. Sorry, I will not change my mind about those. Ever.

        Nor will I change my mind about hating radishes, turnips, rutabaga. I can’t, because there’s a darn good reason for hating them: Some of us have genetic markers (PAV/PAV) that make us more sensitive to the bitterness in those foods. I am genetically incapable of eating any of those.

        I’ve had to leave homes where turnips and rutabagas have been cooked. The smell of them cooking or having been cooked in a house makes me hurl.

  • Margaret Weigel

    A boyfriend in college made fun of my picky ways, so mostly to spite him I went to a Chinese restaurant and ate the broccoli, which I hated. Up until that point, anyways. Not my favorite veg, but I appreciate its virtues…

    Never had/hated sushi until my husband forced me to try some. OK, I stick with tekka maki, but I like it a lot! Never ate/hated brussel sprouts until I had them fried; now I make them this way once a week. I never ate/hated turnips or parsnips before this year; was feeling adventurous, so I figured I’d give it a show. And frankly my parsnip risotto is a thing to die for. Working on cauliflower…

    I’ve come to realize that my parents, too, were mostly fussy eaters, and I grew up eating a small fraction of what’s out there. I look forward to more culinary discoveries.

    • Michelle Madden

      Will you share the parsnip risotto recipe?? I so rarely cook risotto but on occasion I have an urge to whip one up but dont have a go-to recipe.

    • susan

      I would love the parsnip risotto recipe too!

  • Jennifer Mackiewicz

    I hate hate hate radishes and can’t wait to try them sauteed in butter. I also hated raw tomatoes and after some 50 odd years, learned to relish them – but only in the summer and only heirlooms (they have to be heirlooms for me).Ppanzanella is now an annual celebration. I believe hat some strong food aversions are for a good reason – maybe my body would not tolerate the beefsteaks that my sisters ate like apples. But I was determined to tolerate tomatoes if not love them because…they are so beautiful. I hope the same happens with radishes.

  • Molly Parr

    I, too, learned to love the radish later in life:

  • Rivki Locker

    So funny, I had the same experience with radishes recently. I also discovered that braising or sauteing works WONDERS. I tried this same technique with daikon. Wow.
    Hope you don’t mind my sharing the links here:

  • 6512 and growing

    I actually hated beer until I had a raspberry wheat microbrew when I was 23. Now I love beer a little too much.

    Also, re: radishes. Have you read The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball? It’s so good and in the first scene they’re sauteeing up radishes from their farm and it sort of changed my view of radishes, as did this post.

    And one more thing: your photography is gorgeous.

  • Colleen Maynard

    I too would like to try that parsnip risotto, Margaret– please post or link if possible. Still trying to like parsnips and turnips, two veggies I didn’t eat growing up.

    Eggs: until my girlfriend made me decadent breakfast sandwiches with fresh bread, tomatoes, cheese and over-easy eggs (age 22).

    Hominy: i.e. GRITS (see above… clearly, I wasn’t much of a breakfast gal before her)!

    Olives: upon making my first caponata (age 18).

    I still only like cauliflower roasted, with salt and cumin; sushi only when the nori is fresh and wrapped on the inside of the roll versus the outside (and lots of ginger and wasabi!).

  • Lauramychal

    Most recently: Milk until I had a glass of whole organic raw milk. So delicious it was a revelation. I grew up on Non-fat water-milk and always pushed the glass away. Now I often enjoy organic whole milk. mmm mm

  • Lauramychal

    P.S. I currently made a salad with radishes, which I prepared by slicing and cooking them in among with a balsamic reduction. They turned into rich little pickles…delicious.

  • KierraHenderson

    Green olives, until I found them stuffed with an entire clove of garlic (age 23 with my first Bloody Mary).

  • Sarah

    Cauliflower. Then one day it was the only thing left at a work lunch-thing so I sprinkled it with some sunflower seeds that were also available and prepared to choke it down. Surprisingly I loved it. Then that got me going and I tried it cooked with parmesan on top. Then I discovered how beautiful it tastes roasted with olive oil. Now I love it raw. When it’s raw it has a nice very mild spiciness to it. I also like to chop it up and put it in things like baked mac ‘n’ cheese, soups,chili etc. My husband thinks that he hates cauliflower so I like to hide it in foods he likes. It’s such a versatile veggie.

    • Michelle Madden

      I doesnt surprise me in the least that so many kids hate vegetables since they are so often “presented” to the child either under cooked (hard and tasteless) or over cooked (mushy and tasteless). If a child’s first encounter with a vegetable is either sauteed or steamed (just enough) with olive oil or butter and salt, they cant’ NOT love vegs! Imagine if pizza were made with a mushy crust, boiled pepperoni and cold cheese…

    • Aquaria

      Another one I don’t like, and I’ve tried it about a dozen different ways, trying to like it. I just can’t. To me, it smells like rotting eggs (as does radishes, turnips, broccoli, brussel sprouts and asparagus), and is totally bitter, no matter how it’s prepared.

  • Anonymous

    Anchovies – until I had them sauteed w/ onion & garlic on pasta.

  • Bethany Sires

    Ok I have a few. I hate squash (any type) especially yellow squash. The only way I’ve ever eaten it and liked it was yrs ago when my very southern paternal grandmother (God rest her soul) cooked it. Ok she pan fried (sauteed) in bacon grease and served them with cornbread cakes. Yummy, but clearly not very isn’t healthy. Then there are turnips. I didn’t eat those until my very southern maternal grandmother cooked with their greens. That’s the only way I will eat turnips to this day. I’ll eat brussel sprouts, but that’s not a go to veggie, and they have to be stir fried or sauteed. Actually, that’s the only way I eat cabbage, and aren’t brussel sprouts just miniture cabbage heads anyway. Although, I don’t know if I’ll ever like okra (double YUCK!) cuz it’s slimey. Who would want that it in their mouths?

    • Bethany Sires

      Oh wait I have more. I’m not going to eat mushrooms, olives, liver (eeww) or any mollusks. I probably could go on, but I’ll stop here. Lol. :-)

    • Aquaria

      Nobody really likes slimy okra. Instead, bread and fry it. Or put it in gumbo. Gumbo isn’t gumbo without okra.

  • Laura

    for me it was beets, until I had them roasted in a salad
    as a kid my mom served them pickled out of a jar and I was turned away for years after

  • Ilovewalterandperry

    i found that roasting vegetables all together helped me try and like new ones-especially root vegetables (turnips, celeriac…). i recommend roasting them with balsamic with italian herbs of any kind. if you chop them up small enough that they only make an appearance in each bite, it’ll should be easier to get used to. nice to see there are other who don’t like raw tomatoes. i’ll have to try heirlooms but it’s the smell that really gets me. i don’t know if i’ll ever conquer olives but i know the more i try to eat anything, the more likely i am to enjoy it. great post!

  • alison

    I just recently (like two weeks ago) have finally fallen in love with eggs. No matter how hard I tried, regardless of preparation, I just hated them. But over the past year I started raising chickens and I knew the time was approaching, I had to embrace the egg! My lovely and ever patient husband first made an egg white omelet for me, hated it. Then he made a quiche, hated it. Finally he made me a simple dish of scrambled eggs with fresh parsley, heaven!

    • Michelle Madden

      Just wonder if there was any sort of “too close to them” feeling with respect to the eggs … sort of like eating your own pet pig that one day gets slaughtered (not that i’d know about that but i can imagine it). I just wonder even with eggs whether there was a feeling of having to get used to eating what came from an animal you see every day. Of course the hen still stays alive when you eat the eggs but still, just curious … (can you tell i’m a city girl?)

  • Fred

    Smiling, really good article and loved yur accompanying wit……the high school dance thang is right on!

    I’m not sure anyone can make parsley become affectionate to the taste buds…..but, hey!

  • steroids

    I’ve never seen radishes look so delicious.

  • Dust with Flour Blog

    Exquisite photography! … I’ve learned to love kale, but still dislike spaghetti squash.

    • Michelle Madden

      I”m not a huge fan of spaghetti squash either … but give me roasted acorn or delicata and i will happily skip dessert – forever.

  • Alan Roettinger

    I hated Brussels sprouts until (many years later) I realized it was because my mother always overcooked them until they were mushy, and smelled like socks worn for a week straight. It wasn’t until I decided to try them quartered, flash-blanched, and stir-fried with ginger, that I understood how good they could be.

    I love the way you write, by the way.

  • Alan Roettinger

    Oh–since you’ve decided that radishes are redeemable, have you seen “watermelon” radishes? I just discovered them, and wrote about them in a recent post here:

    • Michelle Madden

      I never have! But I’ll look for them at the market … thx for the idea!

  • Susan Cole

    Okra. Never had it growing up and love it in jambalaya and gumbo. It’s hard to find fresh but when I do, my family knows what’s for dinner.

    Would love some recipes for rutabagas.

    Michelle, i heart your blog! Keep up the great work!!

  • heather

    another thing radishes are great for is as a substitute for potatoes in stew or soup. they hold their shape and texture better and don’t break down if overcooked, reheated or frozen.

  • Karen

    I *hate* cooked leafy veggies- kale, spinach, collards, brussel sprouts. The only exception to this rule is flash-grilled romaine or cabbage. I find cooked leaves so slimy and bitter! I know all the leafy green veggies are good for me, but- euch yuck blech. I’ll eat them raw over cooked any day.

    I didn’t like broccoli growing up, but I love it steamed now. I make a mean General Tso’s sauce and I love broc in that.

  • kahansen

    Here are some of mine:
    – Grapefruit until I was at a friends house in high school and it had sugar sprinkled on it. Love it now with no sugar.
    – Summer squash (mom steamed it to mush) until my mother-in-law served it to me carmelized with carmelized onions.
    – Brussel sprouts (like others) until I roasted them with olive oil and sea salt.

  • lilly

    Vegetables are my ‘shoes’ too. I remember my first radish experience in kindergarten, someone made them into darling little pigs and I just had to eat one. And then I just had to spit it out. I remember my mouth all spiced and not knowing what else to put in it to get the flavor out.

    I discovered a new love for radishes when I grilled them a couple years ago… oh yes- sweet, delightful, easy. You barely have to trim them because the greens just crisp & burn off. Lovely.

    Now that I am actually addicted to radishes, I cannot wait to try your chips. Thanks!

  • Brknarw25

    Sweet potatoes, until I was in college and discovered you could bake them like a regular potato and eat them plain (well, maybe with some butter). Prior to that I’d only ever had them the way my mom and grandma made them, sliced and baked with brown sugar, butter and a gooey topping of marshmallows. Too sweet!

    • Brknarw25

      Oh, and radishes. Until I read this post. Now I have to try them using your methods, which probably would never have occurred to me.

  • Amber M. Rules

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so I apologise if this has already been said…I have hated radishes my entire life due to them being forced on me by my overzealous mother when I was young. However, after seeing how they treat daikon in Japan, I was inspired to try the same with red radishes. I slice them paper thin (using a mandoline) and salt them overnight in the fridge. They emerge covered in pink brine and taste amazing with pickled ginger and sushi. The other way I eat them is grated into salads – I barely notice them except for a bit of a peppery kick every couple of mouthfuls. It amazes me that just by simply changing how I cut them what a difference it made to the flavour.

    • Michelle Madden

      Definitely agree with you on the “cutting counts” view of eating … I am like this with meat. If it’s big chunks of meat or a whole chicken breast lets say, it totally turns me off.

  • Dawn

    Love the radish with lentils and sauerkraut. Should make for a great summer side dish.

  • Katherine Topmiller

    If someone can get me to like fennel or fennel seed I will be floored.

    • Michelle Madden

      I will take you up on the challenge!! You likely don’t like it because of the strong-ish licorice taste … have you tried it sauteed? It mellows it enormously and adds a touch of sweet. Check out this recipe I have on the site… If you still can’t stand it after trying this one – I’ve got more ….

  • Dre Mad

    brussels sprouts. cant live without them roasted in my balsamoc vinaigerette.