THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for March 24, 2015

PRODUCT: Castelfranco Chicory

Californians are so lucky. Between the great growing climate and consumer demand for the best, local farmers grow produce not often seen in other parts of the country.

Take this Castelfranco chicory, a joy to behold. The round, slightly open lettuce* heads have pale green leaves that are speckled with burgundy red.

Italians call it “a flower for eating.” It’s almost too pretty to eat! Castelfranco is the sweetest of the radicchio-type chicories: crunchy with an interesting, slightly bitter flavor.

Other names for the lettuce include variegata di Castelfranco, radicchio Castelfranco and Castelfranco variegata. It’s an heirloom radicchio-type chicory from the Veneto region of Italy, where it is abundant and popular. Castelfranco is a town in the area.

A pretty salad by itself, it can be mixed with other greens.

The crop from which this head was picked was grown by Dirty Girl Produce, a certified organic family farm in Santa Cruz County. It’s sold at farmers markets, to restaurants and artisan food markets like Good Eggs.

 

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A beautiful head of castelfranco chicory. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

 

And people wonder why the first thing we do when landing in California is head to the farmers markets!

 
*Chicory is in the same botanical family as iceberg lettuce and romaine (Asteraceae), but a different genus (Cichorium versus Lactuca).

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Garnish

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Dorado (mahi-mahi), garnished with
creamed spinach, toasted breadcrumbs and
crabmeat. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

 

You may be eating more grilled, pan-sautéed or poached fish for health or for Lent. But it doesn’t have to be dull.

The photo at left shows “Dorado Rockefeller,” a riff on Oysters Rockefeller, which tops oysters with creamed spinach and toasted breadcrumbs.

At Bonefish Grill, a piece of dorado (mahi mahi) gets a similar treatment. But because Bonefish Grill is a seafood palace, they crowned the dish with crab meat.

Since most fish is bland in color, use the garnish as an opportunity to add brightness to the plate.
 
PLACE THE FISH ON A BED

Instead of—or in addition to—garnishing the top of the fish, create visual interest by placing grains or vegetables under the fish:

  • Asparagus, string beans, carrots
  • Lentils or other legume or pulse (beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.)
  • Mashed potatoes or cauliflower
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Ratatouille
  • Succotash
  •  
    CHOOSE A COLORFUL SAUCE

  • Diced, seasoned canned tomatoes
  • Red pasta sauce, from mild marinara to spicy puttanesca
  • Salsa, red or green
  • Sautéed, steamed or creamed spinach (standing in as a sauce)
  • Sliced cherry/grape tomato vinaigrette with minced fresh herbs (see photo below)
  •  

    GARNISHES FOR FISH

    When you use a lightly-dressed salad as a garnish, the vinaigrette serves as a sauce.

  • Baby greens salad
  • Diced green, orange, red and/or yellow bell peppers
  • Fresh herbs or herb salad
  • Fruit: halved grapes, lemon or lime slices, olives, pink/red grapefruit segments
  • Lemon-lime slices
  • Toasted bread crumbs (recipe below)
  • Sliced grape/cherry tomatoes with fresh herbs
  • Sautéed red jalapeño slices (remove the seeds and white pith)
  • Thin-sliced vegetables: chiles, cucumber, sauteéd mushrooms with herbs, summer squash, tomato
  •  

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    Steamed cod, citrus Thai sauce, tomato salsa. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    RECIPE: TOASTED BREAD CRUMBS

    These taste best with a rustic or sourdough loaf. The bread can be fresh or day-old. The recipe can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fine bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the crust and cut or tear the bread into chunks approximately one inch in size. Pulse in a food processor to desired consistency.

    2. TOAST the crumbs in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

    3. TOSS the breadcrumbs frequently until golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes,. Season with a bit of salt to taste.

      

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