Slightly bitter and perfectly crunchy, this leafy vegetable deserves your attention. Although it looks like a small red cabbage, radicchio belongs to the chicory family. This small, vivid veggie packs a punch of flavor, with a chewy texture and slightly bitter taste. The deep red color of radicchio adds much to any dish it is used in.
Radicchio can be thinly chopped and eaten raw in salads, grilled in wedges, or cooked in warm dishes like soups, risotto, and pasta. It can also be diced and added onto pizza. Using radicchio with sweet or acidic ingredients can reduce or complement its bitter flavor.
The bright magenta with white ribs vegetable is also a welcome addition to crunchy slaws. Roasted or grilled wedges are a tasty side dish on their own or can be added to other dishes like pasta, risotto, or pizza. Cooked radicchio is particularly delicious in omelets or other egg dishes.
The bitter compounds in Radicchio are water soluble, you can tone down the bitterness by soaking the finely cut leaves in water for at least 30 minutes. That said, we like the sharpness give it just a quick rinse to preserve its bite before incorporating it into recipes. We find that radicchio’s bitterness helps balance flavors, particularly in salads that contain rich ingredients, such as cheese or nuts, or sweet components like fruit.
Radicchio is popular in Italy, and when grilled, the purple leaves become lightly crisp and smoky-tasting. To keep the radicchio from falling apart on the grill, we cut it through the core into thick wedges. While we wanted char on our radicchio leaves, we didn't want to burn them; brushing them with a liberal amount of olive oil added flavor and richness and prevented burning.