Radicchio is a sharp-tasting cool-weather salad green that can be simply dressed with vinaigrette. It also can add a spicy note to mixed green salads dominated by milder salad greens.
Radicchio is a type of leaf chicory that resembles a small redhead of lettuce or cabbage. Radicchios can range in size from a large radish to a large grapefruit. The leaves range in color from bronzy green to wine red or magenta and are veined in white. Some varieties start out green-leafed but turn deep reddish colored when the temperature drop.
The peak season for radicchio is midwinter to early spring, but in cool summer regions, it can be grown year-round. The slightly bitter taste of radicchio sweetens with cooler day temperatures.
How to Choose Radicchio
- Select firm heads that are crisp, fresh, and full-colored.
- Avoid heads with brown or wilted leaves or heads with damaged bases.
How to Store Radicchio
- Radicchio will keep wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for 2 to 3 days. Store radicchio unwashed.
- If wilted soak leaves in a bowl of cold water to revive.
How to Prep Radicchio
- Prepare radicchio as you would lettuce: cut out the core in a cone.
- Halve, quarter, or shred the leaves for cooking.
Radicchio Serving Suggestions
- Eat radicchio raw or cooked.
- You can use radicchio in place of chicory and escarole in most recipes.
- Temper radicchio’s bitter flavor by mixing with other salad greens. Dress radicchio with vinaigrette.
- Use radicchio as a shell to hold chicken, tuna, or seafood salad. You can also use radicchio “cups” to contain crudités, olives, cheese, potato salad, rice salad, and fruit salad.
- Cut the radicchio into wedges and toss with olive oil, top with cheese, and broil until the red leaves turn reddish-brown.
- Add radicchio to cooked soups, rice, legumes, pasta, omelets, and tofu.
- Grill radicchio leaves or grill a whole head on a spit.
Radicchio Cooking Suggestions
- Radicchio can be sautéed or baked.
- Cooked radicchio will add color and its distinctive flavor to soups, rice, legumes, pasta, omelets, and tofu.
- Grill radicchio–coat the head or leaves olive oil and grill until crisp-tender to accompany meats.
How to Roast or Bake Radicchio
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut radicchio head into halves or wedges.
- Place on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss with oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake until radicchio is golden and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on size.
How to Sauté Radicchio
- Wash well.
- Coarsely chop the leaves.
- Heat a skillet or wok over high heat.
- Add a few tablespoons of olive or peanut oil.
- Add the radicchio and a bit of minced garlic and cook over high heat stirring constantly until the radicchio wilts, about 3 to 6 minutes depending on the heat.
- Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
- Serve hot.
How to Stir-Fry Radicchio
- Shred radicchio leaves.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok.
- Add the cabbage and 2 sliced garlic cloves.
- Stir-fry until the radicchio starts to wilt then add a quarter cup or slightly more vegetable stock.
- Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender.
How to Braise Radicchio
- Shred or coarsely cut a head of radicchio.
- Coat a large skillet with unsalted butter or olive oil.
- Add the radicchio and stir over medium heat until the radicchio wilts and turns light brown around the edges.
- Add salt, pepper lightly, and 1 cup of stock or white wine.
- Cover the skillet tightly and simmer until the radicchio is just tender about 15 to 20 minutes.
Radicchio Flavor Partners
- Radicchio has a flavor affinity for butter, fresh shell beans, Italian cheeses, lemon, olive oil, prosciutto, red onions, salami, and vinegar.
- Radicchio contains folic acid, potassium, copper, and vitamin C.
Five Notable Radicchio Varieties
- Chioggia (Rosa di Chioggia): the most common radicchio resembles a compact head of cabbage with dark wine-colored leaves and white ribs with a bittersweet to bitter taste.
- Verona Red or Rossa di Verona: another favorite radicchio produces a bright, redhead with prominent midribs and veins. Verona resembles elongated butterhead lettuce with tender but firm leaves that are slightly bitter.
- Treviso or Rossa di Treviso: green and bitter during hot weather, its second growth produces bright red, cone-shaped head with pure-white central ribbing and leaf veins. This was the first red chicory developed during the sixteenth century.
- Early Treviso: resembles small reddish-purple romaine lettuce with a slender and tapered head of reddish-purple leaves and white ribs.
- Castelfranco: crinkled lettuce-like leaves, egg-shell colored blotched with wine-red speckles; mild flavor and tender texture; probably a cross between radicchio and escarole.
Get to Know Radicchio
- Radicchio is the generic Italian name for chicory. Other common names for radicchio are Italian chicory, heading chicory, rosette chicory, spring chicory, leaf chicory, and Italian dandelion.
- Radicchio is native to the Mediterranean region. Its modern cultivation has centered in the Vento region of northern Italy.
- The cultivation of radicchio began in earnest in Italy during the sixteenth century. The development of modern cultivars began in the 1860s.
The botanical name for radicchio is Cichorium intybus.
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