Radicchio di Chioggia is a leafy Italian chicory that is native to northern Italy and is the most well-known radicchio in today’s time. A relative of endive, radicchio is a member of the chicory family and is sometimes referred to in English as “Italian chicory” or in French as “Chicorée Rouge.” Radicchio comes in many different shapes and colors. Radicchio di Chioggia has burgundy-red leaves with white ribs and is round resembling cabbage. Radicchio adds depth and color to any salad and its flavor profile adds zest to soups and risottos. A radicchio salad pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc and pasta with radicchio pairs well with Pinot Noir.
A Brief History
Along the Po Valley in the region of Veneto in Northern Italy (the far northeast land surrounding Venice), each town has its own unique variety of radicchio – usually named after its respective city. The round radicchio you mainly find in grocery stores is called Radicchio di Chioggia and comes from the Italian city of Chioggia. Radicchio Treviso comes from Treviso and of course, Radicchio Castelfranco is from – you guessed it – Castelfranco. Each variety is different in its own way; the colors vary from burgundy with white veins to white with red speckles. Two legends exist as to why radicchio is native to its region: one, that a mysterious bird from across the sea first dropped the seeds of this unique plant on local fields; the other, that friars in times of old collected seeds from the plants as they grew native and wild along roadsides. The mass cultivation of radicchio likely began on Chioggia Island, where the plant’s mineral content was noted to leave behind a far healthier soil than had originally existed.
How to Select:
Look for firm, tight heads with vivid colors.
How to Store:
Keep radicchio refrigerated in a crisper salad bag or a tightly-sealed plastic bag. It can last a couple of weeks if stored properly. Remove old leaves if they have started to brown.
How to Prepare:
Always rinse your produce under cool water before using. Radicchio can be prepared many ways and adds color and flavor to almost any dish. A simple way to use radicchio is by tearing or chopping and adding it to a salad. To enhance a side dish, chop the radicchio in slivers and add it to your risotto. For recipes check out our blog.
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