Radicchio

radicchio
photo credit: gourmetsleuth

About

Radicchio is actually Italian Chicory. Some (the popular) varieties includes radicchio di Verona which looks like a small head of red lettuce and radicchio di Treviso that looks a bit like a red version of Belgium Endive. This vegetable is very popular in Italy and has gained in popularity in the United States in the last few years. It is eaten raw with just a bit of olive oil and salt, as well as mixed into a variety of salads. You may also see it on menus grilled or roasted or combined into other dishes such as risotto.

Grow Radicchio At Home

Radicchio is easy to grow but performs best in your mid spring and fall garden. It is import you know if you are planting early or late season seed or plant starts. The plant has a shallow root system and prefers more frequent but not deep watering.  The amount of water varies depending on your soil type.  Infrequent watering will lead to a more bitter tasting leaf.

Forcing and Non-Forcing Varieties

Some varieties of radicchio naturally form into heads, for example Treveso. This is a non-forcing plant. In the summer the long 10-14" will be green then turn red as the weather cools.  This variety does not require you to cut it back to get it to form the head.

Red Verona, a forcing variety needs a little assistance to form the classic round heads.  This variety should not be planted too early in spring or it may bolt.  In the fall, you need to cut all the leaves off above the crown. Then as the weather cools the plant will produce the small round heads.

Harvest

Radicchio matures in approximately 3 months.  It should be picked when it is mature but not old.  The older it gets the tougher and more bitter the vegetable will be. 

Featured Recipe

Grilled Radicchio Treviso With Scamorza Cheese

by Gourmet Magazine, September, 2000 (epicurious.com)

Ingredients
  • 4 (9-inch) heads Treviso radicchio
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup coarsely grated smoked Scamorza cheese or smoked mozzarella (3 oz)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Prepare grill for cooking.
  2. Remove any loose outer leaves from radicchio and trim bases, leaving heads intact. Quarter each head lengthwise. Brush radicchio lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill radicchio on a rack over moderately hot coals (coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack 3 to 4 seconds), covered, turning every 10 minutes, until outer leaves are browned and hearts are tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.
  4. Sprinkle cheese over cut sides of radicchio and grill, uncovered, until cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Transfer radicchio to a platter and drizzle with vinegar.

Cooks’ notes

Gas-grill method: Grill radicchio, covered, over moderately high heat away from direct flame as above 20 to 25 minutes total.

Grill-pan method: Grill radicchio in batches, without cheese, in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan, covered, over moderate heat. Transfer as grilled, cut sides up, to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 325°F oven. When all batches are grilled, sprinkle cheese over radicchio, then heat in oven until cheese melts.

Makes 6 to 8 (side dish) servings

 

Nutrition Information For Radicchio

Serving Size
1 cup, shredded
 
Calories
9
Calories from Fat
0
 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 9mg
0%
Potassium
121g
0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
0%
 
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

How to Store

For freshly picked heads simply brush any dirt off the exterior and put in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator.  It will keep approximately a week.  When you are ready to use the leaves simply pull the leaves off the head and rinse in cool water.  

Seed Sources

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.