Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's for dinner? Radicchio

Kate read about radicchio in my Venice dispatches and asks:

What is this radicchio? I've seen pictures and recipes of the stuff, but what does it taste like? Is it a vegetable? Is it like a radish? How do you prepare it? Is is cut in a specific way? Are there parts of the radicchio that need to be thrown away and not put into the meal? Is it chopped, diced, broken, partitioned, peeled, etc.? Can I find it in my local Smith's or Albertsons? How is it packaged and sold?

Radicchio is more or less a little cabbage, a member of the chicory family. It comes in two varieties:

The elongated Treviso I found in Venice.

Chiogga, the round variety most often in American supermarkets.

Radicchio is bitter when eaten raw. Cooking it mellows the bitterness and brings out the nutty flavor. Like cabbage, you should discard the stem knob on the end, core, and the outer leaves if they look wilted or damaged; otherwise, the rest of the vegetable is edible. How you cut it depends on what you want to do with it. I don't have much experience with radicchio myself, so I consulted Melissa's Great Book of Produce.

Radicchio bruschetta, adapted from Melissa's Great Book of Produce

Start by caramelizing onions. Thinly slice onions and sautee on medium in olive oil until soft. Add two tablespoons of water and simmer over medium-low heat until water is absorbed. Continue adding small amounts of water and stirring occasionally for an hour or two until golden brown.

Cut radicchio into thin slices and add to caramelized onions. Add two tablespoons balsamic vinegar and two teaspoons salt. Sautee until soft.

Cut baguette crosswise (if you cut at a slant you get a larger area) and spread each slice with a generous amount of chevre. Top each slice with a tablespoon or so of radicchio, topping with pine nuts. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees or until nuts are toasted and goat cheese slightly melted.

This makes a good appetizer, thought we made it the main course for dinner the other day.

This past summer I also used radicchio for a cole slaw, my friend Rebecca's recipe. Ignore the alarming photograph and scroll down for the recipe.

Where can you find radicchio? Outside of New York or other large cities you may still be able to find at your local supermarket. If not, try While Foods or Wild Oats. Cabbage-type vegetables are in season now, so this is probably the best time to look for them. If you live near a specialty market, especially an Italian one, they may carry radicchio as well. Hopefully you will find the radicchio sold individually, naked as it was grown. Some supermarkets, on the other hand, insist of smothering radicchio in shrink wrap. Free our veggies!

Send your food questions to I don't know it all, but I'll try to find someone who does.


RL said...

Loving the new format but missing more regular installments about your exciting and creative cooking. But I'll live. :)

Your bruschetta recipe looks divine and will be part of my weekend menu for sure.

One of my favorite ways to cook raddichio (and something you may want to try when the weather permits you back out on the patio) is to cut it into wedges (leaving the core as it holds things together) and then grill it for a warm salad. Add some grilled apple and pear slices, some sliced dried figs, and crumbled bleu-veined cheese and a simple balsamic vinaigrette, with lots of black pepper. A truly "rad" salad that was infamous at a chi-chi restaurant I worked at while in grad school.

Adriana Velez said...

Ooo, that salad sounds fantastic. I'll definitely have to remember it for the summer!

Ah summer, I remember it well. Sigh.

Ruth said...

Yes, the crappy, cold weather of late has me thinking of summer grilling and patio dining as well...sigh.

Since reading it this morning, I'm still ruminating over your post about expressions of gender identities/behavior and children. I teach gender studies but have no children so these things are mysterious and of great interest to me. Eloquently worded, per usual.

Swizzies said...

Gah. I eschew the Italians' bizarre love of all things bitter. How about some nice radicchio with a campari chaser?? Gah.

Okay, I'm just cranky - and I love Italians, and Italy. But I do not like bitter stuff. Sue me.

Also, I don't like chevre. But we've been down this road before. I have no foodie credentials, but yet, I love you and your foodie blog. So, I go with it.

Nothing bitter about that. :-)