Tag Archives: radicchio

Guy’s Newsletter: bitter leaves & talking veg

As light levels drop, our last lettuces (planted in early August) are losing the lust for life; with that departing vitality goes flavour, and almost certainly nutritional value. For salad lovers it is time to move on to more robust leaves like mizuna, land cress, claytonia and mustards from our polytunnels and, for those with a bitter palate, the cold-tolerant dandelion relatives from our fields in Devon and the Vendée. This might include radicchio, pain de sucre (solid conical heads of smooth, pale leaves), curly endive and even a few dandelion leaves; I have even been foraging chicory (believed to help in controlling parasites in dairy herds) ahead of the cows from my brother’s pastures.

I love the whole family and will be feasting on bitter salads until the last finally succumb to winter, normally in January. Reluctantly I have to acknowledge that not everyone shares my enthusiasm, which has been curbed by our crop planner Luke who loves all things sweet. His influence means their appearance in the boxes will be rare and we will always offer bitter-free boxes each week for those with sweeter palates to retreat to. I hope however you will at least take consolation from the benefits to the kidneys, liver and bladder attributed to these leaves. You will find they get sweeter as the weather gets colder; the fainthearted can also dilute their flavour with milder leaves or offset it with a sweet dressing. You will find they keep remarkably well in your fridge, allowing you to eat them over a week or two, or even a month for radicchio and pain de sucre. They are also good cooked; typically by braising or in a risotto. See overleaf for more recipe ideas.

I’m pleased to say that my enthusiasm for bitter leaves is shared by the vegetarian cook and food writer Anna Jones; I met her at our pub in London recently and we could have talked veg for hours. I’m very glad that she will be a guest chef on our recipe boxes for the next four weeks; she’s almost as much of a veg nerd as I am.

Guy Watson

guy’s blog: demi-sec borlotti beans & radicchio footballs

On the few occasions I have found fresh borlotti beans (normally in London foodie farmers markets), I have been outraged by their price. Swallowing my farmer’s indignation, I once shelled out for a measly portion of pods and was bowled over by their flavour. Begrudgingly I accepted that foodies can be right, and determined to grow them myself.

Believing our climate borderline appropriate for the crop at best, I tried twice on our farm in France, only to be defeated by birds and Bean Seed Fly. However, slightly annoyingly, we have a fine crop of these fat speckled beans closer to home after all. Grown outdoors in Devon by farming co-op member Andy Hayllor and his accomplice Jeremy, they must be hand picked when half dry (‘demi-sec’) to get them at their best. If fully dry they can be machine harvested at a fraction of the cost, but they never taste as good. Our chefs in The Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant are proclaiming them the best crop of the year. Picking is slow and supplies limited, so they are in just some of the boxes but can be added to your order until frost or a good gale finishes them off. Fantastic in stews, salads, hummus or just boiled with herbs and garlic, and dressed with olive oil.

Every autumn I look forward to radicchio; raw in salads (try the recipe overleaf), grilled, braised or best of all melted into a risotto or pasta sauce. I can’t get enough of these bitter relatives of dandelions and endive, and consequently there are lots of recipes on our website. This year many of the heads are the size of footballs, weighing up to 1.5kg. We will use the smaller ones in the boxes but I’m hoping those who share my passion for their bitter, earthy flavour will order the thumpingly large heads as an extra item. They’ll keep for a month in the fridge and provide many meals for a bargain £1.75.

Riverford pumpkin day – free family day out

Join us at the farm for on Saturday 26th October 11am-4pm. Expect children’s activities, pumpkin carving, chilli stringing and seasonal food. Call us or visit https://www.riverford.co.uk/pumpkinday for details.

Guy Watson

What’s what in the box – 25th October 2010

In this week’s video, Guy talks about radicchio and gives tips and ideas on using it.

what’s what in the box – 25th october 2010

These grow really well in Autumn, after the lettuce season is over. The cannon ball like Chioggia are most commonly sold in the UK but we prefer these tall,  cos shaped radicchio known as Treviso.

It does have a really bitter flavour, so can be used raw in salad, but in a small quantity with a sweet dressing or with fruit or roast squash. If you do find it too bitter to use in a salad, it can be cooked.

Try our recipes for grilled radicchio, radicchio and red wine risotto and radicchio pasta or order radicchio on our website.