Tucked between the purple fingerlings and radishes in colors of the rainbow at the Weiser Family Farms stands at the local farmers markets, you’ll find hidden heads of pink lettuce. It’s called rosalba chicory, a member of the radicchio family.
Native to Northern Italy, the heads resemble butter lettuce, and are less bitter and more delicate than their purple cousin. Mix them together with some Tamai Family Farms Persian cucumbers and watermelon radishes with dill vinaigrette for a lady’s lunch or top with shrimp salad for a light dinner.
You can toss them together with sausage into pasta or make a subtle pink addition to desserts like tarts, fruit salads and cakes. The fresh heads will keep up to one week when wrapped in a paper towel and loosely stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
“It’s a winter variety and it really needs that frost to get the pink color,” farmer Alex Weiser tells L.A. Weekly at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. “It takes longer for them to come in but it’s worth it. We’ll probably run out in about three weeks. There are so many different types of chicories, we’re still learning the animal. These are very frost hearty on our farm in the mountains of Tehachapi. We can get down to 20 degrees and they love it. The best winter greens are pink, not green. That’s my motto.”