Well, Radicchio is not exactly green, rather it is a colourful member of the chicory family. It is an offspring of the weeds that used to grow around the Mediterranean.
Radicchio is a specialty of the area around Venice in Italy.
Radicchio is most popularly used outside of Italy in salads, but it can also be cooked – grilled, baked , braised, gratineed, or steamed – and this develops its flavour even if it colour diminishes when it is cooked. Interestingly, Italians almost never use radicchios in a mixed salad, but savor them alone with the simplest of olive oil dressings. Even more often they cook radicchio.
There are several different varieties of Radicchio, even though only one or two are available locally. Radicchios are named after the towns in the Veneto region of northern Italy where most are grown. There is the round, tightly packed Chioggia. This one is best eaten raw.
Verona is more shaped like Belgium Endive – oval leaves along a central stem. It is quite crisp and has a slightly bitter taste. You can eat it raw or cooked.. These are the two varieties available here locally (in Adelaide, Australia).
Castelfranco looks more like a rose in bloom, and has yellow leaves spotted with burgundy. It was created in late 1800 by crossing Treviso Radicchio and endive. Castelfranco’s bitterness is very delicate.
Treviso is the most prized with enhanced bitter flavour and long elegant leaves. One type is tightly packed, the other is loosely packed. It has a reasonably crispy texture. Many love a risotto made with this radicchio.
One of the easiest ways to cook Radicchio is to grill it. Remove any tough leaves from the outside, then cut the radicchio into quarters – leave the stem intact. Brush with olive oil and grill the quarters until the leaves are wilted and cooked. Drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Dust with a little salt and black pepper.
Browse our Radicchio recipes for other suggestions.
Pics of radicchio types via the internet.