Radicchio is a member of the chicory family, & is revered in Italian cooking. While it might look a bit like cabbage, the leaves are a softer texture with a satisfying juicy crunch thanks to its thick ribs.
Radicchio has a super power, & that is its slightly bitter flavour. You might be thinking “Bitter?! That doesn’t sound delicious!” but give us a chance to explain. Western diets tend to shy away from bitter flavours, but this isn’t the case everywhere. ‘Bitter’ is one of the five key flavours in asian cuisine, & Italian cuisine embraces the bitter nature of many ingredients. You’re probably more familiar with some of these ingredients than you think - broccoli, kale, coffee, dark chocolate, & arugula are all in the bitter camp. These flavour-filled foods are believed to have a detoxifying effect on the body, & are seriously good for your gut health.
So, what do you do with radicchio? Well, it’s one of those great leafy vegetables that is equally delicious raw or cooked. In Italy shredded radicchio is often lightly dressed a little in advance & then added to other ingredients as it can hold its crunch longer than lettuce.
Add some roasted fennel & apples on top of a salad mix filled with radicchio to balance those sweet & bitter flavours. Your taste buds will thank you!
If you aren’t convinced about the bitter flavour don’t worry, radicchio can still be for you. Cooking mellows the flavour & makes this fall veggie even more versatile. Try roasting it in wedges & serving it as a side dish, or add it to homemade pizza along with blue cheese. Mmmm… https://www.shelovesbiscotti.com/grilled-radicchio/