Kitchen Essentials – Horseradish for a Healthy Diet

By / Magazine / November 29th, 2010 / 1

Which side are you on? Or, do you sit on the fence and play it safe? Most people have a love/hate relationship with horseradish. That pungent and sharp-tasting herb is revered by many spooned over roast turkey at Thanksgiving. Whichever you camp you may fall into, you’ve no doubt seen the jars of prepared horseradish lining the shelves of the typical grocery store. But, if you want to try it at its most unadulterated, walk by those jarred versions and pick up a fresh root.

Horseradish looks like a very large parsnip. It has little to no aroma, until you cut into it, that is. Then, like onions, the broken cells release a distinctive taste and smell that’s supposed to convince you to turn and run. Unfortunately for the horseradish, that particular mode of self-preservation only makes us want it more. People have discovered that, like onions, the flavour and aroma of horseradish can be quite appetizing . Although it’s most commonly sold in its grated form, horseradish can be found whole or in a powder, too.

Wondering how to tame its pungency? Stir the horseradish into a little vinegar, lemon juice, cream or mustard. The more horseradish you add to the mix, the hotter it will be. Two words of caution: use sparingly. Once you’ve cut into the root or opened the jar, store it in the refrigerator and use it up quickly. After a few months of exposure to air, horseradish darkens, loses its pungency and eventually becomes bitter.

The horseradish root is actually a perennial that grows underground, but its leaves and stems can reach a height of over 1 metre. Popular in cuisines all over the world, it can be added to almost any recipe for a hit of spice and heat. In days long ago, it was revered for its contributions to a healthy diet. Maybe they knew something we don’t. Horseradish, apparently, functions as an antibacterial and antibiotic. It strengthens the immune system and eases high blood pressure. Need another reason to convince you to give it a try? How about the idea that it’s an aphrodisiac? Horseradish is akin to being a cure for what ails you, don’t you think?

Use it as a condiment for boiled or roasted meat and vegetables (this is its most common use), a sandwich spread, flavouring in soups, in salad dressing, cocktail sauce for shrimp and mixed drinks. Sometimes, green dye is added to it and is used instead of the often more expensive wasabi. Give this healthy chicken salad recipe a try.


Healthy Chicken Salad

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, grilled

Romaine lettuce, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

Spinach leaves, leave whole if small

Radishes, sliced

Frisée lettuce, torn

Radicchio leaves, torn

Cucumber, sliced

1 each red, yellow and orange sweet pepper

Horseradish Dressing

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 to 3 Tb lemon juice

1/2 tsp (or to taste) prepared or freshly grated horseradish

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Grill chicken breasts; set aside. Wash and dry salad greens; set aside. In a bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Adjust lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Cut chicken breasts into thin slices and combine, in a large bowl, with salad greens. Pour dressing a little at a time over salad and toss until completely coated. Salad should be only lightly dressed.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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