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Committed to providing sustainably grown food you can trust.

Produce Corner - Black Spanish Radish


The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.  Kristen provides additional information including nutritional value & recipes. Outside her work as Produce Lead at the Dill Pickle, Kristen shares her passion for nutrition & natural living on her website “Enjoy This Organic Life”.

My favorite part of farming is growing all of the different colors and shapes of vegetables. At the farmers market, it always brings a smile to my face when someone sees something they’ve never seen before. Of all the colors I see, there is one that stands out. I’m talking about the Black Spanish radish. You should give this one a try.

It’s definitely a larger radish, growing almost 3” round. With a deep black skin and snowy white interior, this radish is built to please. A little spicy, the Spanish radish can be eaten raw or cooked. My favorite recipe is Black Slaw. Grate up some radish (leave the skins on for more nutrition and outstanding color!), carrots, cabbage, and some onions. Add one or two tablespoons of lemon juice and oil. Toss with chopped Italian parsley and put in a pinch of salt, sugar, and black pepper too.

Spanish radishes store very well. Wash them, remove the greens (also edible!), and store wrapped in a damp towel or plastic bag in the crisper. The best radishes are crisp and firm but you can continue to enjoy them after they get a little soft, too. -Rob

Radishes always made an appearance in my family’s kitchen growing up, whether it be in salads or as a vehicle for my grandma’s famous ranch dip. Until I signed up for my first CSA while in college almost eight years ago now, I never knew just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables exist in this region. I can remember receiving my first black radish and falling into veggie awe!

Radishes are a great source of vitamin C, iron, potassium & magnesium and provide some vitamin A and E as well. Black radishes have been used in traditional European and Chinese medicine to stimulate bile function, improve health of gallbladder and to promote pulmonary and respiratory health.

Because the black radish has a significantly stronger bite to it, there are a few tricks to reducing the heat for those who prefer less of a punch. One method is to simply peel away the skin; the other is to slice or chop and soak in ice water for 30-45 minutes.

Another great way to enjoy the black Spanish radish is simply by cutting it into ¼” slices and sautéing in butter, olive or coconut oil until tender and spotted with brown. This is great on its own or atop a fresh salad! -Kristen 

The Book Club is Back in Action!

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is widely acknowledged as one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time. 

Join us as we collectively read and gather to discuss this work on Wednesday, March 12th at 6:30pm around the fireplace at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie. 

BONUS! City Lit is offering Cradle to Cradle at a 10% discount for Dill Pickle Book Club participants.

Produce Corner - Rutabaga

The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips; Kristen offers nutritional information and additional recipe ideas. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.

You are probably going to find this hard to believe but it's difficult to find somebody who lists the rutabaga as their favorite vegetable. And yet there it is, in the grocery store usually at this time of year, every year. "But what do you even do with a rutabaga?" I think I can help.

First, you don't even have to like every vegetable. You heard me right. Personally, the rutabaga is not one of my delectables. But if you've never even tried rutabagas, now is a great time. They are fresh in the fall and their nutrition, like most vegetables, is exceptional. Low in calories, no cholesterol and lots of vitamins and minerals make rutabagas welcome to most. On top of that, they store really well in the refrigerator - just keep them cold with high humidity.

I have 3 "go-to" recipes for rutabagas. Like most of my cooking, these recipes are simple and quick. The easiest, of course, is to eat them raw. Wash and peel the rutabaga and then grate atop a salad. Done. Another easy use for pretty much every root vegetable is to roast them. Cut into bite sized chunks, add some oil, and bake at 450 until tender. A little salt can be added, or not. Finally, my favorite swede recipe (rutabagas are often called Swedes because they grow well in Sweden's cool climate) is to mash them. Chop equal parts rutabaga and potato into chunks, boil in vegetable stock until tender, and mash. You (and your family) will never even know it's rutabaga in there.

On behalf of rutabaga farmers everywhere, thanks for giving them a try. – Rob

I consider myself incredibly lucky that I was raised partly in the Chicago suburbs, partly on my family's farm in Wisconsin. Some of my fondest childhood memories on our farm include helping in the garden & enjoying the freshest of meals moments after harvest. It may seem odd but some my most vivid memories of eating from our garden, was absolutely loving on the freshly mashed rutabaga and turnips! Mashed rutabagas have always been on my family’s Thanksgiving menu and were the one dish I enjoyed more than mashed potatoes or yams. Something about its unique bitterness & hint of sweet has had me hooked since as long as I can remember.

As a member of the crucifers (same family as broccoli, kale, cabbage,etc.), rutabaga provides quite an assortment of nutritional benefits, as Rob mentioned above. This root is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. As with all other superstars of the cruciferious family, it contains a class of compounds called glucosinolates, which are known to have cancer-inhibiting properties. So not only are they boosting your immunity with vitamin C, they are helping mitigate cancer cells!

So, while my go-to recipe now-a-days is simply plain boiled or steamed rutabaga, I recommend trying out this Swede Potato Soup with Fried Spaghetti Squash and Toasted Pepitas. Because how could you not want to devour this!? -Kristen

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