Who knew radishes could be so mind-blowingly delicious? After a friend served them topped simply with butter and salt, my husband, Drake, and I couldn’t wait to join a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). Every week we’ll pick up a box filled with fresh produce grown by local farmers – in our case, the ones at Ten Mothers Farm in Hillsborough. The contents of the box will be up to the mothers (actually, just one married couple). We won’t know what we are getting until we open the box.
Drake, normally a steak and potatoes man, has been gearing up for this experiment by sending me recipes for vegetables most of us never encountered in our Southern mamas’ kitchens. Radicchio, for instance, has been available in food markets for a while now, but, besides adding it to a salad for its pretty red color, what the heck do you do with it? After trying it at an Italian eatery – wrapped with bacon, grilled over hickory chips and sauced with a lemony vinaigrette – we were hooked. Then Drake came up with a terrific recipe that combines it with carrots in a different take on slaw, perfect to serve with a grilled main course.
These days the new “it” veggie appears to be celeriac or celery root. My fascination with this unappealing-looking vegetable dates from a trip to Provence ages ago. Along with grated carrot salad (without radicchio), traditional celeriac rémoulade (grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard) is as common there as coleslaw is in North Carolina.
Though this gnarly knob looks like it belongs in the bulb section of Southern States, you can now find it locally at Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market in the vicinity of other uncommon vegetables, kohlrabi and rutabaga.
It’s even a hot new item on restaurant menus. At a popular Charleston eatery, I tried it roasted in salt with a browned butter sauce; at another it was pureed, topped with a baked egg, English peas and Parmesan cheese – an inspired combination.
Drake and I hope to see radicchio and celeriac in our CSA box, but we’ll have fun with whatever shows up. Discovering new vegetables and finding new ways to cook familiar ones can be as exciting as traveling to a new country. Ten Mothers, bring it on – we are psyched for the adventure!
Radicchio and Carrot Slaw
1-2 large carrots, grated
1 medium radicchio, chopped
1 Tbsp. or more lime juice
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. or more sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
Stir all ingredients, except peanuts, together until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Carrots vary in sweetness and radicchio in bitterness, so add more sugar or lime juice as needed. Add peanuts, if using, just before serving.