Week 23 from Valley Flora!

  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Treviso Radicchio
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Cauliflower - white or purple

On Rotation

  • Parsley

On harvest mornings, everyone on the crew has their first thing. Roberto's first thing is carrots: he heads straight for Molly, the field where all the carrots and beets are planted this year, and begins to dig (aside: all of our fields are named after our maternal grandmothers: Molly, Santos, Lorraine, Ida and Helen). Allen jumps straight into bunch greens. Jen starts the morning by combing throught the beds of broccoi and cauliflower. And I head for the lettuce. We do this all season long, so each of us develops an intimate relationship with those crops as the year goes by. Right now, Roberto's job is getting muddier as he yards fat carrots out of our rain-soaked soil. Allen's job is getting harder as growth slows down, as the kale becomes less leafy and abundant, and as the aphids move in. Jen is buried right now as our fall brassicas peak in a flurry of cauliflower, romanesco, broccoli, broccolini, kohlrabi, cabbage, turnips and daikon. Her job has been made harder by wet conditions that invite in the slugs and rain rot.

In my lettuce world things are winding down with only a couple more outdoor beds remaining plus a few greenhouse beds. The heads are getting smaller and you might notice that this week the lettuce is bedecked with sprouting cover crop seed. While broadcast seeding our cover crops in September and October, some of the seed flew into the neighboring beds of juvenile lettuce. Ample rains created perfect little germination pockets, which is why you might encounter sprouted oats, clover, vetch and/or peas when you wash your lettuce this week.

I'm always sad to see the lettuce go, but my consolation is the radicchio. I got to harvest our first variety yesterday, a dense, upright, wine-colored treviso type. Over the past five years I've fallen in love with chicories (escarole, radicchio, etc), more and more each year. From a production standpoint, I love how hardy they are, thriving through the difficult weather of late fall and winter. From an aesthetic standpoint, I love the beauty of them all: so many deep, vibrant colors in myriad shapes and forms. And from a culinary perspective, I love eating them. I've included a recipe for one of my favorite radicchio salads below.

I get that they can be a challenge for the uninitiated, due to their bitterness. But that can be overcome by cooking, or by cutting them up raw and soaking in cold water for 10 minutes. The treviso type you're getting this week lends itself well to braising, grilling, or other applications of heat, but you can just as easily use it raw in salad. Choose from any recipe in this collection and you can't go wrong: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/13-ways-to-love-radicchio-gallery

Or make what I'm making tonight: a radicchio salad that a friend turned me onto from a restaurant in Portland: https://food52.com/recipes/15806-tasty-radicchio-salad

I think I ate that salad every week all of last fall and winter, a meal unto itself.

There's another radicchio salad that I love that originates with yet another Portland restaurant, but I'll save that one for next time.

You'll see a few other radicchio varieties before the season is over, so use this first opportunity to get on good terms with it, and maybe like me, learn to love it...