It’s that kaleidoscopic time of year again in Northern California… fall transitioning into winter. Short days, long evenings, super-duper colorful sunsets, orange pumpkins on doorsteps, shimmering vistas of red, gold, amber, and brown grape-vines carpeting the rolling hills. Our year-round farmers market contributes to the rainbow. Scarlet radicchio, orangey squashes, yellow cauliflower, magenta pomegranites, red tomates, and purple eggplant are piled high and going fast.Jump to Video Jump to Recipe
I can’t think of more pure and simple joy than hitting the farmers market first thing on Saturday morning and then spending the afternoon over my hot cauldron, stirring, mixing, creating, alchemizing. Lots of R & D.
Today began as such. After exiting the car and walking toward the 30 white-tented farmers’ stalls lined up on this foggy morning, I was immediately stopped in my tracks by a colorful sign reading, “Cinnamon rolls made with croissant dough.” That’s not fair. I mean, really? As a result, it took every ounce of willpower to keep walking down the row, smiling and waving politely at the Costeaux’s French bakery chef, while inside my body and mind were in a wrestling match.
Instead, I headed toward my favorite folks at, Singing Frogs Farm, and bought some red and green butter lettuces. Then on to Min-Hee Hill Gardens for some broccoli, sweet peppers, and green-red speckled apples.
Lastly, two glorious heads of radicchio. This wonderful Italian bitter lettuce that is full of health benefits and comes in six glorious varieties.
What follows is a simple and elegant recipe, some serving suggestions, and a video for the visual learners. Buon appetito!
Roasted Radicchio with Polenta and Mint
- 1 cup polenta – uncooked
- 2 heads of radicchio any variety
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil use generously!
- a few sprigs of mint leaves
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Maldon finishing salt (optional)
Prepare the polenta
- In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and add the polenta a bit at a time, whisk constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat so the polenta continues to simmer but does not bubble out of the pot. Switch to a wooden spoon, and continue to stir constantly while the polenta cooks and thickens. Keep stirring and cooking on low for 20 minutes until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot.
- Spoon immediately into an 8" x 8" Pyrex dish or a 9" pie dish and let sit at room temp to stiffen up while you cook the radicchio. There's no need to oil the dish. Polenta does not stick.
Broil the radicchio
- Turn on the broiler to high.
- Wash and drain radicchio heads and cut in fourths, lengthwise, leaving them attached at the root.
- Coat the bottom of a 9" x 11" baking dish with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the radicchio pieces in the dish, side by side.
- Drizzle the radicchio pieces with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place under the broiler for 5 minutes, and then turn each radicchio wedge over and broil for 5 more minutes. Keep an eye that they don't burn. The outer leaves will brown a bit and the head will soften.
- To serve: Cut a wedge of hot polenta and place on a plate. Place a wedge of radicchio on top. Garnish with a drizzle lemon juice, finishing salt or sea salt, and a few sprigs of mint. Finally, douse generously with olive oil.
Want more rad ideas? Try these…
Stuffed Radicchio Antipasto
Meatless Calzone from Southern Italy (filled with ricotta and radicchio)