Radicchio, that round, red vegetable, (you’ve seen in the produce aisle, not quite sure what it is or what to do with) resembling cabbage, is actually part of the chicory family.
Grown in the Veneto region of Italy, (and now Salinas, California) this beautifully colored vegetable would be completely green if Mother Nature had her way.
Halfway through its development, the plants are covered with straw, leaves or loose soil. As it continues to grow in darkness, (the lack of light inhibits chlorophyll) the lighter portions of the leaves turn white and the darker portions become red.
As with other vegetables in the chicory family, (Belgian endive, escarole) radicchio has a bit of a bitter bite.
According to Marcella Hazan, the radicchio growers of Chioggia, have a secret to make it taste sweeter. Slice the head in half, then finely shred it on the diagonal.
My tangy dressing (also used in grilled fish panino) tames the bitter beast. The sweetness of the dressing mellows the bitterness of the radicchio, the one flavor enhances the other, bringing out the best in both.
So, why eat this, crunchy, vibrant, revered vegetable, by Italians?
Nutrient-rich, these small red globes are high in magnesium, potassium and Vitamin-A. Radicchio rivals blueberries and spinach when it comes to antioxidants and contains 22 percent of your daily recommended dosage of Riboflavin (for proper energy metabolism). Best of all, one cup (shredded) has only 9 calories.
- 2 cups radicchio, finely shredded or thinly sliced
- 2 cups apples, chopped (I used red gala)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons agave (or honey)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and agave.
- Add the radicchio and apples, tossing to thoroughly combine ingredients.
- Serve in a radicchio leaf with a scattering of walnuts.