We have been enjoying a few different soups that hail from the region of Tuscany, Italy. The White bean soup and Tuscan potato kale soup have quickly become staples here at the farm. Both easy to make and nutritious. And those two characteristics, easy to make + nutritious = health!
This week we are traveling 3 hours to the north and east from Tuscany to Treviso for a taste of Radicchio of the chicory family. Radicchio in Italy is tied to regions in a similar way wine is tied to regions. And this week’s Treviso Radicchio comes from the Treviso region of Italy. Ironically, Treviso in Italy is as big a deal as Romaine is here. You can find 3 packs of Treviso in Italy on the shelves of grocery stores just like we have 3 packs of romaine in the states. You will also find Romaine in your box of good this week, my thinly veiled attempt to highlight and contrast how we eat compared to other parts of the world.
Treviso radicchio hasn’t been cultivated in America very long, maybe 40 years, compared to 4+ centuries in Italy. Fortunately, in the PNW we have a similar climate to Treviso, Italy and grow excellent Radicchio. While the inspiration comes from Italy, the perspiration required to grow this crop comes from Mt. Vernon.
Ralph’s Greenhouse and its rich alluvial soils in the Skagit valley coupled with its cool maritime nights mimic the ideal growing conditions for this super nutritious vegetable. I am also pairing the Treviso with French shallots from Hedlin Farms in La Conner and I asked my neighbor, Vivian, to cut one sprig of sage for each of you (make sure you find it) to use in this week’s recipe.
Also, I am bringing over Spitzenburg apples from Okanagan. There is a small organic grower’s co-op over there that we (Klesick’s and you) support by buying their fruit. And Spitzenburg is an excellent apple that dates back to Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president of the United States. It is reported that this was his favorite apple and I can see why. This week you can use a Spitzenburg apple to balance the deep flavor of the Treviso Radicchio in the wilted salad recipe. The recipe uses a technique called braising, it works great with all types of greens. I would be tempted to, also, create a freshly made Valencia orange/balsamic vinaigrette with the Valencia oranges in your box and add it to a Romaine/Treviso salad. So many choices!
Health does come down to choices. Thank you for choosing Klesick’s as one of your partner’s in health!
Your Farmer and Health Advocate
Recipe: Braised Treviso with Sage & Balsamic
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 (about 125g) French shallots, peeled, halved lengthways
- 1 treviso lettuce, cut into 6 wedges
- 125ml (1/2 cup) Massel chicken style liquid stock
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallot, stirring, for 20 minutes or until soft. Add treviso. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add stock, vinegar, sugar and sage. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the treviso wilts. Season with salt and pepper.
A favorite of Italians, whom it is believed their cultivation originated with, Treviso radicchio look a bit like purple romaine hearts. Italians almost never use radicchios in a mixed salad, but savor them alone with the simplest of olive-oil dressings. Often, they cook radicchio, turning to varieties like Treviso, that are milder in flavor, since the bitterness of radicchio intensifies with cooking. The tonic bitterness, however, is a good contrast to rich or fatty flavors. Radicchio is good braised, grilled, or in a soup. Store: keep radicchio in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Daikon is a white root vegetable often seen in Japanese and Chinese cuisine that resembles a carrot. However, unlike a carrot’s sweetness, daikon is spicy and tart, similar to a radish. Its pungent and sharp flavor can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. The white pigment in daikon is called anthoxanthin, which is an antioxidant that may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In Asian cuisine, daikon is often eaten alongside meaty dishes, and is said to aid in digestion and breakdown of oil, fatty animal protein, and dairy.
It can be eaten raw like you would a radish, sliced or grated into a salad, or baked, sautéed or grilled like any other root vegetable. Cooked daikon has a similar texture and flavor to turnips.