How often have you been to the farmers market and, not knowing exactly what that beautiful vegetable you are looking at is called, muttered “I’ll have one of those” quietly while pointing to the object of your desire? Let’s agree to stop doing that. Head to the market this weekend and confidently order the ruh-DEE-key-oh.
What is Radicchio?
Radicchio is a type of chicory (like puntarelle) and, along with artichokes, burdock, and Jerusalem artichokes, a member of the sunflower family. Endive, another member of the family, is closely related to chicory (they are all in the Cichorium gender), and they can have confusing names depending on where you live in the world; what we consider endive is known elsewhere as chicory.
What types of radicchio are there?
There are many different types of chicory: most are named after the area of Italy where they are grown, and a few have a protected geographical indication (Indicazione Geografica Protetta or IGP). These labels guarantee that the item comes from a specific region, that its quality and characteristics date back to its origin, and that at least one phase of production and / or processing takes place in the designated region.
The most popular type of chicory in the US, and therefore the type that you are most likely to get your hands on, is Chioggia (labeled 1 in the image), or more correctly: Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia. It is rounded and looks like a small head of cabbage. Once you find it, you can keep it on hand for a while. Deborah Madison says that Chioggia radicchio “keeps well for weeks in the fridge, in case you need to store it for that long, although it’s always better to use things sooner rather than later.”
You can also probably find Treviso (Radicchio Rosso di Treviso; labeled 2), which has a milder flavor and a more elongated shape, like a giant version of endive. Latent It comes from the same Treviso plant, but looks more like a sea creature with curly tentacles. It gets its otherworldly look from a second forced growth, not unlike endive.
Marcella Hazan, who left us with an abundance of food wisdom, had her own chicory preferences: “The noblest members of the family…radicchio di Castelfranco, radicchio di Treviso, tardivo di Treviso—Makes a long-awaited entry around November… The biggest of the three, and, in my opinion, the most magnificent vegetable grown, is the dazzling tardive from Treviso or late harvest chicory ‘.
When is Radicchio in season?
Although you can find chicory throughout the year, it is at its best in the colder months; its characteristic bitterness is firmer in the warmer months. Select sharp-looking specimens; remove sad and withered leaves (3, above) before use; and mentally prepare yourself for any red chicory to turn a less attractive shade of brown once cooked.
How to store Radicchio
Radicchio will be best stored in a cool place (like your refrigerator’s crisper drawer) loosely wrapped in plastic or in a perforated bag. It will last at least a week (and many times longer) this way.
How to cook with Radicchio
Marcella Hazan shares a secret tip she learned from chicory growers in Chioggia: “Although the whole bright red leaf looks very attractive in a salad, chicory can be made sweeter by splitting the head in half and then finely crushed diagonally… Don’t discard the tender top of the root just below the base of the leaves, because it is so tasty.
Nancy Harmon Jenkins says: “Here in Italy we tend to cut chicory into thin slices and season it a bit before serving with excellent olive oil and a few drops of good wine vinegar, plus salt of course. Both techniques: chipping and dressing beforehand, help reduce bitterness.
Of course, there are countless ways to use chicory (many of which go beyond salads and side dishes). Once you have a few, try one of our favorite chicory recipes below.
Our best radicchio recipes
1. Charred radicchio wedge salad
A quick kiss in a hot skillet brings out chicory’s classic bitter taste, along with a bit of sweetness, while adding smoke. This all works great with the salad’s creamy buttermilk and crème fraîche dressing, savory bacon chunks, and crunchy pear slices.
2. Bagna Cauda Tostadas with Radicchio, Egg and Avocado
This winner of the contest for “Your Best Anchovy Recipe” strikes the balance between umami-rich anchovies, bitter chicory, and delicious avocado and egg. Basically, it’s the perfect midday snack.
3. Leek, radicchio and fontina risotto
This risotto with chicory and leeks is extra creamy, thanks to the addition of fontina cheese (plus the traditional Parm).
4. A fall salad
What better way to welcome fall to your table than with this hearty salad starring the season’s greatest hits, from chicory and endive to fresh apples and pears.
5. Radicchio and roasted shrimp with warm bacon vinaigrette
Radicchio and shrimp aren’t necessarily the most obvious combination, but in this dish, inspired by one of Charleston’s best restaurants, FIG, they work together like a dream (with a little help from the bacon).
6. Sweet potato, radicchio and tomato hash with Harissa hollandaise sauce
A very satisfying breakfast hash that still feels light and shiny (thanks to the taste of harissa and lemon juice).
7. Sesame Chicken with Radicchio and Orange Salad
This two-ingredient sesame chicken is a riff on the popular takeout dish, but the similarities stop there (and they end with a vibrant orange and radicchio salad).
8. Root Vegetable Salad Salad with Crispy Bacon
A bacon side dish (who doesn’t love one of those?) That you can serve all summer and fall.
9. Radicchio Toro Bravo Salad with Manchega Vinaigrette
It’s the simple chicory salad you’ve always dreamed of, with a shower of grated manchego.
10. Risotto with Salvia e Noce
A beautiful and cozy risotto sprinkled with toasted walnuts and fried sage leaves, worthy of your favorite (and most esteemed) company.
11. Radicchio Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts and Capers
“This salad made me want seconds, then thirds …” wrote food stylist and cookbook author Melina Hammer of her chicory salad. You have been warned!
12. Salad With Caramelised Fennel, Radicchio and Apples
We get it – this roundup is supposed to have to do with chicory, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the wonder of earthy, tender, caramelized fennel.
13. Torta di Radicchio (Radicchio Cake with White Chocolate Glaze)
A cake made with chicory, you say? Trust us in this case.
14. Eggs poached in olive oil with Italian chicory and speck
A super tasty Italian-inspired breakfast that we’d love to enjoy any morning of the week (or weekend).
15. Chicken And Radicchio Salad With Pickled Raisins And Walnuts
Consider this your new favorite stimulating work lunch (bonus: many of the components are easy to make).
16. Sweet and sour roasted radicchio with ricotta and dates
“Chicory, roasted and marinated, is extremely good without any of the other ingredients (herbs, cheese, dates) that push it to the limit,” says food writer and editor Sarah Jampel. That said, it never hurts to do your best.
How do you like to use chicory? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by Mark Weinberg.