Spotlight on Radicchio

It’s radicchio season in Italy! Well,  and also asparagus season, artichoke season, lemon season, and banana season. But let’s focus on the radicchio, because it may not seem so familiar.Italian Radicchio

Radicchio is a bitter leaf vegetable with a brilliant purple color, and white veins. The Italians enjoy it in a variety of manners, including in pastas, salads, risotti, and over grilled meat or fish. Along with our numerous fruit trees, we have a  small vegetable garden in front of our vineyards in Piemonte that happens to grow radicchio. Fortunately, I came back to Italy this week just in time to get the best pick of the radicchio, and check out how Nonna Italia gets the most out of its unique flavor.

Right above the vineyards, we have a little radicchio and lettuce growing.

Right above the vineyards, we have a little radicchio and lettuce growing.

Radicchio pops out amongst fallen branches and deceased plants.

Radicchio pops out amongst fallen branches and deceased plants.

Italian Radicchio

 

Things to do with Radicchio:

Throw it in a salad. It will add a lot to any normal mixture of green lettuce. Toss the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the side dish is all set. 

If you opt not to make a salad, then radicchio on its own provides a fine little dish. My Nonna showed me that by mixing a few simple ingredients to make a nice little dipping sauce for the radicchio leaves. Here is what you need for a basic radicchio dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Radicchio Dip

 

To Eat Raw Radicchio

Another great way to eat radicchio plain is to eat it cooked. By cooking it, I mean sautéing it in olive oil over the stove, as I do with most vegetables. Here’s what you do:

  • Heat some olive oil over a pot (about 1/4 cup) with a dash of red pepper flakes, and some garlic (as you can see by the photo, I did not have any).
  • Add the washed radicchio and cover the pot. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  • Take the cover off, give it a mix and a dash of salt and pepper, and you have yourself cooked radicchio.
Heat the olive oil, pepper, and garlic (which is missing from the photo)

Heat the olive oil, pepper, and garlic (which is missing from the photo)

You can use red pepper flakes, or a little dried hot pepper.

You can use red pepper flakes, or a little dried hot pepper.

Throw the radicchio in the pot, and cover it with a lid.

Throw the radicchio in the pot, and cover it with a lid.

Nonna Italia cooks the radicchio with true Italian grandmotherly passion.

Nonna Italia cooks the radicchio with true Italian grandmotherly passion.

 

The radicchio all cooked down.

The radicchio all cooked down.

Italian Cooked Radicchio

The cooked radicchio is not only great to eat as is, but it can also serve as a fine addition to pasta and risotto. If you want to jazz the cooked radicchio up a bit, then lay some thin slices of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano over the dish, and pop it in the oven for a few minutes.

Not only did Nonna Italia teach me the ways of eating radicchio, but she also taught me how to incorporate it in a fine risotto. The radicchio risotto she made was the best risotto I’ve ever had, so I will be sharing the recipe shortly!

Radicchio Risotto

4 responses on “Spotlight on Radicchio

  1. Hi Ben,

    the season for the radicchio is finished…what a pity! Do you know that in the area where I live (Cormons, near Gorizia), we have a particular radicchio called “La rosa di Gorizia”, because of its shape, that seems really a rose!! And of course it’s a fantastic vegetable to use in the kitchen!
    Say hello to your dad!!

    • Ciao Mauro,

      Peccato che il stagione e gia finito! Pero, adesso e il momento perfetto per gli asparagi, no?
      Ho cercato sul internet per vedere la rosa di Gorizia. E bellissima! L’anno prossimo devo venire a Gorizia per mangiarlo!
      Grazie per il commento! Il mio papa anche dice “ciao”!

      -Ben

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