Wednesday, December 16, 2020

December 17, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Beauty Heart Radishes!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Beauty Heart Radishes: Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey (see below); Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below)

Italian Garlic: Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below); Cheesy Cabbage Gratin; Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata

Red and/or Yellow Onions: Caramelized Onion Galette

Friends, welcome to the final Cooking With the Box article for the 2020 CSA season. We have made it to the final season, winter.  Your seasonal eating adventure is nearly complete.  Think about all the meals you’ve made, the new recipes you’ve tried and the vast array of plants you’ve consumed!  This week we’re featuring the gorgeous beauty heart radish and we’re keeping it very simple.  The first recipe is for Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey (see below).  A piece of this toast is a good way to start your day, and of course you could serve it with a fried egg.  You could also enjoy this as a light lunch or make smaller portions and serve them more as an appetizer.  The other recipe is for Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below).  This dish comes together on the stovetop and could be the focus of a vegetarian meal or a side dish.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Beets
photo from
Now that we are finished harvesting “greens” from the field we will rely on cabbage to be our “green” for the rest of the winter.  Some boxes this week may receive red cabbage.  If you do, use it to make this Red Cabbage Slaw with Beets.  This is a beautiful slaw featuring red cabbage along with red beets, apples and dried cranberries.  You could also make Asian Style Pork Nachos with Red Cabbage.  This is an interesting spin on nachos which uses wonton wrappers as the “nacho” that is topped with a flavorful ground pork mixture along with the cabbage.  If you receive the green savoy cabbage, use it to make this humble Stewed Cabbage, Apples & White Beans.  This dish is a one pan vegetarian main dish creation, but it could also be served as a side dish.  The other recipe I want to mention is for Cheesy Cabbage Gratin, in honor of Richard who thinks cabbage and cream are a natural pairing!

In the course of searching for beauty heart radish recipes this week I stumbled across an awesome vegetable focused blog, It’s a Veg World Afterall.  As I started poking around to see what was here, I kept discovering recipe after recipe for items in our box.  You really should go check out this site as there are a lot of great vegetable recipes such as these Oatmeal Raisin Sweet Potato Cookies.  These cookies are gluten free and have some extra added protein from peanut butter.  I think they are healthy enough to make it ok to eat them for breakfast!  I also found this recipe for BBQ Lentils with Shredded Carrots.  This is a vegetarian take on shredded barbeque pork, except it is all plant based with lentils and carrots as the main bulk.

Herbed Carrot and Swede (Rutabaga) Mash
photo from
I have a few more recipes from  If you haven’t used the rutabaga from your last box yet, use it to make Herbed Carrot and Swede (Rutabaga) Mash.  If you’re not sure what to do with kohlrabi, consider making these Sage Brown Butter Kohlrabi Noodles.  You can make the kohlrabi “noodles” using a spiralizer, or just make very long, thin sticks of kohlrabi.  If you don’t know how to cut and peel kohlrabi, check out this video: How to Peel Kohlrabi.

There are a few other kohlrabi recipes I want to mention.  Earlier this year we featured this recipe for Kohlrabi Custard which was shared with us by a member.  I also really like Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Kohlrabi & Chickpea Salad.  Both of these recipes are simple to make, but very delicious.  Of course, you could also shred the kohlrabi and use it to make Kohlrabi Hash Browns which may be served for breakfast or serve them for dinner alongside grilled or roasted meat.

If you are not familiar with sunchokes, I really encourage you to take a few minutes to read our past Sunchoke Vegetable Feature Article.  The key to a successful sunchoke experience is moderation!  I like to eat sunchokes in small portions, more as a condiment such as in this Chili and Lime Sunchoke Salsa which may be served as a topping for tacos or with grilled or sautéed fish or chicken.  Another popular recipe from one of our past newsletters is for Chili-Roasted Sunchokes.  You can make this using all sunchokes, or you could use half sunchokes and half potato or other root vegetable if you want to start small.  The same concept can be applied to this tasty recipe for Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata.  The recipe calls for 2# sunchokes.  Your boxes only have about 1.25#, so I recommend using one pound sunchokes and one pound carrots for this recipe which should serve 4 to 6 people.

Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata
photo from
Horseradish whips may be another less familiar vegetable for you.  If you’re not sure what to do with horseradish, I’d suggest starting with this recipe for Prepared Horseradish.  This is a way of preserving the horseradish in a vinegar mixture which stabilizes the flavor.  Once you have made prepared horseradish, you can add it to a lot of different things, such as stirring it into mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich or use it to make these Bacon Horseradish Deviled Eggs.  You could also use horseradish to make this tasty Horseradish Sour Cream Dip to serve with chips or crackers, other vegetables, or serve it with roast beef.  Horseradish could come in handy around New Year’s if you use it to make your own homemade Seafood Cocktail Sauce to serve with shrimp at your New Year’s Eve celebration!  If you’d like to read more about horseradish and ways to utilize it, check out Saveur magazine’s article “One Ingredient Many Ways”.

One-Pot Kabocha and Chickpea Curry
You don’t have to be in a hurry to use the Testsukaboto winter squash in this week’s box.  It will store for quite awhile.  When you are ready to use it, I’d recommend making this simple Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric and Miso that we featured earlier this year.  This recipe for Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl is one of my favorites for utilizing squash such as this variety.  You also can’t go wrong with this One-Pot Kabocha and Chickpea Curry.

Last month we made squash and pumpkin pies, this month I think we should make carrot pie!  I found two tasty recipe ideas for you including this Pecan Topped Carrot Pie and this simple Homemade Spiced Carrot Pie.  If you don’t want to use your carrots for these decadent desserts, you could use them to make this savory Gingery Carrot Stew with Peanuts and Cilantro or this Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Stew.

Sweet Potato Fried with
Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce
photo from
We’re nearly at the end of the box, but you might still have some sweet potatoes lingering on your counter.  If you have some of the long skinny sweet potatoes or some ‘baby bakers,’ use them to make these Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce.  Serve them alongside a sandwich, or eat them more appetizer style for your next movie night!  Lastly, if you have a pile of onions and don’t know what to do with them, use them to make this Caramelized Onion Galette.

And with that I believe we’ve reached the bottom of another CSA box and the end of another CSA season.   I truly hope you’ve enjoyed your experience and we look forward to meeting you back here in this space again in 2021.  I wish you nothing less than a peaceful winter’s rest.  Happy Holidays!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Beauty Heart Radishes

By Chef Andrea

Creamy white to green on the outside with brilliant hot pink flesh on the inside….stunning and vibrant are the words that come to mind when I consider the best way to describe this unique vegetable.  Beauty heart radishes are one of several winter storage radishes we rely on this time of the year.  Storage radishes differ from common fresh red radishes in several ways.  First, they are more durable and dense with a thicker outer skin, all qualities that improve their storage potential.  Storage radishes are intended to be stored through the winter months, so it makes sense that they would be grown for harvest in the fall.  Their flavor is more balanced and desirable after they’ve had some cold fall nights, yet another reason to grow them in this season.  While the green tops of storage radishes are edible, you seldom see these radishes with their tops as they are typically removed at the time of harvest.  In contrast, those little red radishes are usually sold with the green tops still attached which is an indicator of freshness.

Beauty Heart Radish &
Sesame Seed Salad
Radishes are an important part of many cultures in Asia including Chinese, Korean and Japanese.  It’s amazing to look at all the different shapes, colors and sizes of radishes grown in these countries.  Richard started growing beauty heart radishes back in his early farming days in the early 70’s.  He had never had this radish, but he was scanning any seed catalog he could find looking for the unique vegetables no one else was growing.  He has an interesting story to share about how this radish came to be called “Beauty Heart.”  “When we introduced this radish to the Midwest, it was called ‘green skin/red flesh,’ accurate, but not a particularly poetic name!  One of our farmer’s market customers from Korea recognized the radish and shared the Korean name with us, which translates to ‘beauty heart.’  We thought this name was much more fitting to the radish so we called them beauty heart radishes from then on.  At that time, beauty heart radishes really weren’t being grown commercially, but as their popularity started to grow and more producers started growing them commercially, we started to see ‘watermelon radishes’ coming out of California.  ‘Red Meat’ is another name used for this radish, amongst others.  But for us and much of the Midwest, this radish will hopefully always remain ‘Beauty Heart!’

Spicy Roasted Beauty Heart Radishes
with Carrots & Tahini
photo by Vicky for
Beauty heart radishes are more mild than many winter storage radishes and you’ll even notice a bit of sweetness in them as well.  They may be eaten both raw and cooked.  Their flavor is more pungent when raw and a lot of the radish bite is in the outer skin.  If you want to tame them down a bit, peel away a thin layer of the skin and/or salt them.  Beauty heart radishes are beautiful in salads, sliced thinly and added to sandwiches, pickled, or included on a vegetable platter.  We like to eat slices of beauty heart radishes with slices of cheese instead of a cracker.  But raw is not the only way to eat them.  You can add them to winter stir-fries, roast and sauté them, or add them to soups and stews.  When cooked, their flavor mellows even further.  So if you are not a radish lover, do yourself a favor and try preparing them with a cooked method.

Store beauty heart radishes in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in a plastic bag to keep them from dehydrating.  They will store for months, although they may not look so pretty after awhile.  Trust me, they’ll still be good on the inside.  Just give them a scrub and peel away the outer skin before using.

I didn’t really intend to create a list of recipes for beauty heart radishes this week, but I started poking around and I found a lot of tasty recipe ideas I had never seen before!  So, in addition to the simple recipes in this week’s newsletter, here are seven more to consider trying this winter!

Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary

Yield:  4 servings

4 cups diced beauty heart radish
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest, plus the juice of half a lemon
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and just starting to turn golden.  The oil and butter mixture may be starting to change color slightly as well.  This is perfect, just make sure the garlic doesn’t get too brown or it will become bitter.  
  2. Once the garlic starts to turn golden, immediately add the beauty heart radishes and rosemary to the pan along with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir or toss to combine and coat the beauty heart pieces with the oil.  Put a lid on the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The amount of cooking time will depend on how soft you prefer your vegetables.  
  3. Once the radishes are almost at the point where they are cooked to your liking, add the juice of about half a lemon.  Cook for just a few more minutes, then remove from the heat.  The lemon juice will combine with the oil/butter mixture to make a light glaze to coat the radishes.    
  4. Adjust seasoning to your liking with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Serve immediately on their own, or with steamed rice.
Recipe inspired by a similar one sourced from

Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey

Yield:  2 servings

⅔ cup cream cheese
One medium lemon*
2 slices really good bread 
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small to medium beauty heart radish, very thinly sliced
Honey, to drizzle
  1. Put cream cheese in a small bowl.  Wash the lemon and remove the zest using a grater, zester, or a vegetable peeler.  If the zest is not already finely grated, do so using a knife.  Add lemon zest to the cream cheese and stir to combine.  Cut two wedges from the lemon and set aside.
  2. Put bread in a toaster and toast to desired doneness.
  3. Immediately spread some of the cream cheese on each slice of toast.  Arrange slices of beauty heart radish on top of each toast.  Add a touch of freshly ground black pepper and drizzle each toast with honey.
  4. Serve the toast with a lemon wedge on the side.  These are best eaten immediately with just a little squeeze of the lemon juice.
*If Meyer lemons are in season and available, this is the variety of lemon I recommend.  If they are not available, use a “regular” lemon.
Recipe by Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm

Winter…The Final Season In Our Journey

By Andrea Yoder
Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream--
one of our favorite spring recipes!

We often describe CSA as “a seasonal eating adventure,” and that it is.  It seems so long ago, and yet like yesterday, that we launched into the season with some of our spring favorites.  Ramps, nettles, asparagus, sorrel…..our seasoned members could hardly wait to get their hands on these things while some of our newer members were scratching their heads wondering what to do with these less familiar items.  But with a sense of adventure, many of you jumped in with a spirit of curiosity and a willingness to try new things.  Summer came along and brought with it a whole host of foods to explore starting with fennel, green top beets and kohlrabi in June.  The heat of July brought zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and the first new potatoes.  In August we made room for tomatoes, melons, edamame, peppers and sweet corn.  Things started to cool off a bit towards the end of September and we started to receive the first of the fall cauliflower.  In October we officially transitioned into fall with winter squash and leeks.  By the time we turned the corner into November we were excited to introduce frost-sweetened Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and more roots including celeriac and parsnips.  As we enter into winter, our kitchens are well stocked with storage roots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cabbage, onions and other late season vegetables to carry us through the winter months.  Mother Nature always has something to nourish and sustain us in every season.

Beautiful jars of canned dilly beans!
Eating local food in season is more than just a trendy, foodie thing to do.  Before the days of refrigerated transportation and international trade, eating local food in season was the only option.  You eat what you are able to grow, hunt or raise, or you don’t eat.  Self-sufficiency was found in a root cellar filled with humble rutabagas and turnips that would store for months.  Shelves were lined with canned goods filled with vegetables and fruit preserved in the peak of their season.  Crocks, jugs and jars of fermented foods were tucked away, allowing yet another means of preserving foods from other seasons to make them available during times when fresh foods were limited.  Other preservation methods such as dehydrating and salt-curing are just a few of the other ways people preserved food.  We’ve been spoiled by having anything we want, whenever we want it. What has happened to the traditional ways of eating employed by our ancestors?  Have we lost our connection to the natural rhythms of nature?  Has this variance made us vulnerable?  The further we go from the source, the more risky the business of securing our food becomes.  The more hands it has to pass through, the greater the potential for something to go wrong.  Issues such as social justice, fair trade and a general lack of transparency enter into the equation and sometimes leave a deeper mark than we care to admit.  And what about the quality of the food?  How fresh are those vegetables that have been in transit for days?  Do Brussels sprouts even taste good when grown in warmer regions less adapted for the plant?

Summer 2020, HVF Crew harvesting dill
The pandemic that has left its mark on 2020 has shown us the value of supporting our local food systems.  When our industrial food systems were put to the test, in many ways they failed.  Breakdowns in labor, transportation, and the availability of raw materials limited the ability of some to source their food.  For members of our society who rely 100% on someone else for their food, this can be a scary reality.  Unfortunately, this was the catalyst for many to make a shift back to their local food system.  We are not the only regional producer who has seen consumer support of local food skyrocket due to the pandemic.  People are looking for food they can trust, produced in the region by people who are real and reliable.  But what will come of this Pandemic Reset when the pandemic has passed?  We have all been changed and many times change means we need to move forward, embrace new technologies, new ways of thinking and doing.  But sometimes I think it’s ok to hold onto ideas and ways of living that are tried and true.  Eating in ways similar to how our ancestors ate is not such a bad thing.  Yes, we can do it in a little different way while still being in sync with nature.  If you eat meat, you may not want to hunt or raise all of the animals that feed you.  The alternative is to support local producers who are raising animals in sustainable, humane ways while following the rhythms of nature.  That means there’s an appropriate time to harvest and fresh meat may not always be available.  Meat will need to be frozen so it’s available to you in between times of harvest.  You may not grow all of your fruits and vegetables in your own garden space, but you can certainly eat in alignment with the seasons through participating in a CSA with a willingness to embrace the bounty of each season and adjust your meals to the ingredients instead of seeking out specific items to prepare a recipe regardless of whether or not that vegetable is in season at the time.

Chili & Lime Sunchoke Salsa
with Seared Salmon
So as we hunker down for winter, we send you off with encouragement.  We encourage you to eat your root vegetables…all of them, even the turnips, rutabagas, celeriac and sunchokes.  The seasonal eating adventure will continue through the winter, and while there may be some challenges along the way, winter can be a very fun season to spend time in the kitchen.  Use this opportunity to explore some different ways of preparing some of these winter vegetables.  Look to other cultures where some of these vegetables are an integral part of their seasonal eating and explore some of their ways of preparing these foods. Warm your body with nourishing soups and stews.  Slow down and take time to make some things that might take a little longer to prepare.  Learn from other members by interacting in our Facebook Group.  Pull out that bag of horseradish and figure out what to do with it.  We’ve heard time and again that members often discover they like foods they otherwise may not have tried simply because it appears in their CSA box!  The adventure of seasonal eating is the discovery of new items, but it’s also the discovery of how to utilize a few foods over and over and over.  The adventure is in the ways our awareness of and connection to our food can shape and change our physical bodies, our minds and the ways we interact with the world around us.  Every year is a new adventure filled with new lessons to learn, new discoveries to be made.

CSA members learning about garlic with 
Richard & Andrea--Strawberrry Day 2018
As we move forward into a new year, I think it’s important to pay attention to the evolution of our food systems.  Who will have power in the food system of the future?  Will we continue to give our power away to an industrial food system?  Will we be satisfied eating poor quality food laced with chemicals and social injustice that is produced in ways that are harmful to our people and our land?  No, the power of each individual to choose what kind of food they want to put in their mouth still lies within each of us.  While we may not grow or produce all of our own food in todays’ modern times, we can still choose elements of self-sufficiency as our ancestors did through the ways we source our food.  Every food purchase you make has the ability to fuel our local food system.  It allows us to take back our health when we choose nutrient dense foods grown in sustainable ways that do not strip our environmental resources, but contribute to their regeneration.

Andrea receiving fresh ramps in April
Our world needs healing right now in many ways.  Food may not be our only medicine, but it is a powerful one that can bring healing on many fronts.  It’s time to reconnect to our power.  Reconnect to our communities.  Reconnect to our land.  Reconnect to the way we were designed to eat, in sync with nature.  You can do it, you have nearly done it.  Finish off winter and you will have eaten through an entire year of seasons!   I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to reflect upon as this year comes to a close.  One thing I do know is that I am grateful for the bounty my body has been filled with in each season of the year.  I look forward to winter cooking and have a stack of recipes waiting for me in my kitchen.  As spring draws near and I finish off the last few sweet potatoes, cook the last of the cabbage and use up the last of my onions, my body will start to crave fresh spring greens, those tender little spring radishes.  And when the first ramps push through the last of the snow in the forest come April, my body will be ready to transition yet again to another season.  We hope you have enjoyed your adventure with our farm this year and wish you a peaceful winter filled with hearty meals and rest.  When spring rolls around, we hope you’ll be on board to journey with us through another seasonal eating adventure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December 3, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Radicchio!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Chioggia Radicchio: Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Radicchio (see below); Fig, Taleggio and Radicchio Pizza (see below)

Red Onions: Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Radicchio (see below); Turkey Minestrone Soup; Cranberry Almond Apple Coleslaw

German Butterball Potatoes: Instant Pot Beef Stew; Chicken Pot Pie

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Radicchio (see below); Chicken, Apple, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Skillet

It doesn’t seem possible that we are in the final month of the year and down to just one more CSA delivery after this week.  We are officially transitioning into winter and it’s time to hunker down and cook some hearty meals!  In an effort to extend our “greens” as long as we can, we gambled on this week’s featured vegetable, Radicchio.  Try this delicious, unique vegetable paired with Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and bacon in the first of this week’s featured recipes, Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Radicchio (see below).  Since radicchio is a popular Italian vegetable, it’s fitting to use it to make this Fig, Taleggio and Radicchio Pizza (see below).  This recipe only makes one serving, so make sure you multiply it for the number of pizzas you want to make.  If you can get your hands on some Taleggio cheese, it’s a real treat.  Taleggio is creamy, washed-rind cheese from Italy.  If you can’t find it, you could substitute another cheese such as camembert or grated gouda.

Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna
photo from
Some members have been wondering why we haven’t delivered much butternut squash this year.  No, it wasn’t a crop failure.  Rather, we had a very nice crop of butternut squash and it’s storing very well so we’re saving it until the end!  Use it to make a delicious Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna.  You could also roast the squash and use it to make this creamy and delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto.

Cabbage is a great winter vegetable because it not only stores well, but it is also very versatile in its use.  Lets start with a few slaw recommendations.  First, this fall-inspired Cranberry Almond Apple Coleslaw is a fall-inspired version of a classic coleslaw concept expanding on the traditional cabbage and carrots with the addition of apples, dried cranberries and almonds.  This recipe also calls for green onions, for which I’d substitute thinly sliced red onion.  If you’re looking to take cabbage slaw in a little different direction, consider this Asian Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing.  This is a tasty, light slaw featuring cabbage, carrots and apples.  The recipe calls for both green and red cabbage, so if you have some red cabbage hanging out in your refrigerator from a past delivery, pull it out and put it to use this week!  The dressing for this slaw is a light dressing with rice vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and a touch of mayonnaise seasoned with fresh garlic and ginger.  The author of this recipe recommends serving this slaw with Slow Cooker Honey-Garlic Chicken.  If you’re not feeling like a raw slaw, use the cabbage to make this Creamy Sausage Pasta with Cabbage.

Instant Pot Beef Stew
photo from
Some members get overwhelmed by all the root vegetables in the late season boxes.  Don’t let the abundance distract you—it’s a good thing and means you’ll be eating well into the new year!  The nice thing about root vegetables is they take the pressure off of having to use everything all at once because they can be stored.  Here are a few recipes from past newsletters that make good use of root vegetables, especially this week rutabagas, potatoes and sweet scarlet turnips.  First, Cornish Pasties.  If you’ve never made these, it’s easy, you just need a little time.  You could also make Chicken Pot Pie.  This is my recipe utilizing a drop biscuit topping which I prefer to a pastry crust.  If you’re into Instant Pot or crockpot cooking, you could also make a hearty Instant Pot Beef Stew.  If you need more ideas for how to use rutabagas, refer to the 2019 Rutabaga Feature Article.  Lastly, I mention this recipe every year and this year is no different.  One of my favorite ways to use turnips is in this Apple Turnip Quiche. I wish I could take credit for the recipe, but I can’t.  It’s from one of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities—The Birchwood Café.

Sweet Potato Tacos
photo from
I have just a few more recipes to mention before we reach the bottom of this week’s box.  If you’re looking for a tasty soup recipe to make use of this week’s green curly kale, check out this Turkey Minestrone Soup.  If you need a “make ahead” kind of item, consider these Sweet Potato Tacos.  This is a little different way to make tacos, but the thing I like about this recipe is they are baked and the author offers guidelines for freezing them so you can make them in advance and just pull them out of the freezer for a quick meal.  You could also use this week’s sweet potatoes to make this tasty Chicken, Apple, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Skillet utilizing the last of this year’s Brussels sprouts.

And the last item in this week’s box, the stunning purple daikon radish.  Use them to make Daikon Chicken Soup or if you’re looking for a fun adventure, make these Pan-Fried Daikon Radish Buns!

That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you back in two weeks for our final article of the season!  Take care and have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Radicchio

By Chef Andrea

This week’s featured vegetable is a gorgeous farming gamble with a bittersweet story.  The brilliant burgundy red and white leafy vegetable in this week’s box is radicchio.  Radicchio is a bitter green that does best when grown in cool months, which is why it is one of the last crops we harvest late in the fall.  It is a popular winter vegetable in Italy and there are many different varieties and shapes.  Many varieties are named for the regions in Italy which they are thought to have originated or where they are grown.  When I visited Italy last winter, I was excited to see many different varieties of radicchio, most of which I’ve only ever seen on the pages of vegetable seed catalogs!  Our winters are more extreme than the mild winters in most parts of Italy, thus not all varieties are conducive to our growing region.  The variety we grew this year, Chioggia Radicchio, is one of the most common and is named for the city of Chioggia which is a coastal town located in northeastern Italy along the Adriatic Sea.  This variety is similar to Boston lettuce in the way it grows round, compact heads, although a head of Chioggia radicchio is usually more densely packed than Boston lettuce.

A selection of Italian radicchio varieties,
Mercato di Testaccio in Rome
One of the reasons it is best to grow radicchio in cool weather is because the cold treatment helps to balance the bitterness with a touch of sweetness making the overall eating quality much better.  The challenge for us though is protecting it from critters and extreme cold temperatures.  Deer are particularly fond of this crop, so we put up a tall fence to deter them.  We also had to cover the radicchio with a double layer field cover held up off the crop by wire supports.  In Italy, many people harvest radicchio from their gardens all winter long.  We have a shorter window for growth and harvest and while radicchio can take some frost, very low temperatures in the teens and twenties can cause frost damage.  If you see a bit of browning on the edges of the outer leaves, that’s the cause.  The other challenging part of growing radicchio is that the rate of growth slows significantly with cool temperatures making it difficult to grow a sizeable head before our winter truly sets in.

Radicchio amongst other
vegetables, Mercato di
Testaccio (Rome)

I am always curious about the health benefits of different foods, and one has to assume that a vegetable with the intensity of color you see in radicchio has got to have some valuable nutrients!  One article found at describes radicchio as “a precious ally for our health because it is a true mine of antioxidants, able to counteract free radicals and cellular aging….”  Radicchio is rich in minerals and vitamins.  The compounds which lend to its bitterness also help aid digestion and help support the liver in detoxifying the body.  If you are not a fan of bitter vegetables, you may take one bite of raw radicchio and say “Andrea, why did you give me this vegetable?!”  To answer your question, “Because it is good for you AND can be very delicious!”

The key to bitter vegetables is balance.  Bitter is balanced by sweetness, acidity and fat, so while you may not find a big bite of a leaf to be to your liking, you may find you really like this vegetable when it is incorporated in dishes with other ingredients that help to balance and complement the bitterness.  I also prefer to thinly slice radicchio instead of eating it in big pieces.  Lastly, cooking can help to mellow out the bitterness and techniques such as grilling and roasting help to bring out some of the sweetness in this vegetable as well.  So what I’m saying is, please give this beautiful, bittersweet vegetable a try!

Radicchio and Sweet Potato Salad with Candied Nuts
photo from
Given radicchio’s  popularity in Italy, many of the classic pairings and ways radicchio is used go back to Italian cuisine.  Radicchio may be eaten both raw and cooked.  In its raw form, radicchio is often paired with other greens as well as fruits such as apples, pears, figs, oranges and persimmons to make delicious fall salads.  It is also often incorporated into pasta dishes, risotto, savory pies, omelets, baked au gratin, or used as a topping for focaccia or pizza.  Many dishes will pair radicchio with other ingredients such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, fatty cheese such as Parmesan, Gorgonzola (blue cheese) or Taleggio.  It is also often paired with seafood as well as bacon or other pork products, eggs, olive oil, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions.

While we encourage you to use the radicchio within a week or two, you’ll find it stores pretty well and you can likely keep it for several weeks.  Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to keep it from wilting.  You can use the entire head, including the core.  Carefully peel back the layers, wash well and pat dry before using.

In addition to this week’s featured recipes, I’ve included a short list of a few more ideas to get you started if you aren’t sure how to use radicchio.  Enjoy!

Fig, Taleggio and Radicchio Pizza

photo by Ed Anderson for
Yield: 1 serving

Note: If you want to make this when fresh figs are in season, by all means do so; skip the soaking-in-wine step and you’ll be good to go.

3 dried Mission Figs
½ cup dry red wine
2 Tbsp raw walnut pieces
All-purpose flour
1 (6 oz) ball pizza dough
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup shredded radicchio
2 oz Taleggio or another pungent cheese, cut into small pieces (may substitute camembert, blue cheese, gouda, smoked cheddar or sharp cheddar)
  1. If the dough has been refrigerated, transfer it to the countertop to let it rise for about 1 hour before making pizza.
  2. Preheat the broiler function in your oven with the rack set 5 inches from the element.  If you do not have a broiler, preheat your oven to 400-450°F.  If you are using a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan for the pizza, set it over medium-high heat on the stove top until it gets smoking hot, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the skillet (turned upside down) or griddle pan to the oven so it stays hot until you’re ready to bake the pizza.  If you are using a baking stone, heat it in the oven while the oven is coming up to temperature.  
  3. Put the figs in a small skillet set over medium heat, pour in the wine and bring to a simmer.  Turn off the heat and let the figs soak for at least 30 minutes.  Drain, then chop into ½ inch pieces.
  4. Toast the walnut pieces in a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the skillet frequently, until they are very fragrant and starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Immediately transfer to a plate, let cool, and then coarsely chop.
  5. To shape the dough, dust a work surface liberally with flour and put the ball of dough on it.  Sprinkle with flour and knead a few times until the dough comes together and holds its shape when you form it into a ball.  Add more flour if necessary.  Form it into an 8 inch round by pressing from the center out toward the edges, leaving a 1 inch border thicker than the rest.
  6. Make sure you have all the topping ingredients measured out and ready before you assemble the pizza, because once you place the dough on the cooking surface you can’t easily move it.
  7. Open the oven door and carefully remove the pan, griddle or baking stone you will be cooking the pizza on.  Pick up the dough and quickly transfer it to the cooking surface, pressing it back into shape if need be, while being careful not to touch the cooking surface with your fingers.
  8. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of the oil onto the dough, scatter the walnut pieces on top, then the radicchio, then the chopped figs, and then the cheese.  Slide the pan back into the oven and close the door.
  9. Broil or bake the pizza until the crust has puffed up around the edges, the pizza has blackened in spots, and the cheese had melted.  If you’re using the broiler, this may happen fast in as little as 3 to 4 minutes, so watch carefully!
  10. Remove the pizza with a wooden or metal pizza peel or a large spatula.  Transfer it to a cutting board, and let it rest for a few minutes.  Drizzle the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil on top, cut the pizza into quarters, transfer it to a plate and enjoy!
Recipe borrowed from Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan, as published on

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Radicchio

Yield:  4 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced red onions
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 oz bacon, small dice
12 oz Brussels sprouts, quartered (about 3 cups)
4 cups thinly sliced radicchio
2 tsp maple syrup
  1. Preheat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced onions and season with ¼ tsp salt and a touch of black pepper.  Saute for 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically.  Adjust the heat as needed to prevent the onions from browning.  This is not a process you want to rush, rather let the onions sweat so they release moisture and concentrate their natural sugars.  
  2. Once the onions are very soft and the steam coming off the pan has lessened, add the wine.  Allow the wine to come to a simmer and cook until it has nearly entirely evaporated, stirring periodically. Once the wine is nearly all gone, remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.
  3. While you are patiently caramelizing the onions, prepare the remainder of the ingredients.
  4. Heat a medium to large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crispy and brown.  Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the grease in the pan.  You will need about 1-1½ Tbsp of fat total.  If necessary, remove some fat from the pan.  If your bacon was lean and there is not enough fat, add a bit of olive oil. 
  5. Next, add the Brussels sprouts and about ½ tsp salt.  Saute until they are tender.  Add the radicchio to the pan and stir carefully to combine.  Let the radicchio start to wilt down, then add the bacon and caramelized onions.  Stir to combine all the ingredients and cook until everything is heated through and the radicchio is fully wilted down.  Remove from heat and add the maple syrup.  Stir to combine and add additional salt and pepper to your liking.  Serve immediately.
Recipe created by Chef Andrea Yoder.