If your winter salads need a wake-up call, radicchio, a member of the chicory family, may be the right leaf to join the plate. Its red and white colors add visual interest; its slightly bitter taste, another flavor note for a good dressing to play with.
Radicchio originated as a wild chicory in Italy, writes Aliza Green in Starting With Ingredients. Modern radicchio was developed in the 1860s. Two varieties of radicchio are commonly found in the United States -- radicchio rosso di Chioggia, shaped like a head of cabbage with dark leaves, and radicchio rosso di Treviso (also known simply as Treviso), which is tighter and tapered. Treviso radicchio resembles its relative Belgian endive.
Radicchio is available year-round. A cup has just 9 calories, and is high in magnesium and potassium.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Choose crisp heads with colorful leaves, says the produce distributor melissas.com. Avoid any signs of browning, blemishes or holes. Look for a firm core.
STORING AND PREPARING
Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days, says prevention.com.
To mellow the bitterness of radicchio, soak leaves about 10 minutes in cold water before using, says radicchio.com, the Web site of radicchio grower European Vegetable Specialties.
Grill wedges of radicchio as part of a mixed-vegetable grilled salad plate, says radicchio.com; drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. In Starting With Ingredients, Aliza Green grills radicchio with a balsamic-vinegar syrup.
Add radicchio to risottos and hearty pasta dishes.
BAKED TREVISO RADICCHIO WITH FONTINA AND PARMESAN CREAM
2 heads Treviso radicchio, cut in half through core
1 / 4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 / 4 cup half-and-half
1 / 4 cup grated fontina cheese
4 slices prosciutto
1 / 4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Marinate radicchio in olive oil, salt and pepper about 10 minutes. Beat eggs, half-and-half and fontina together in a bowl. Wrap each piece of radicchio with a slice of prosciutto and place in a shallow baking dish. Pour cheese mixture over top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake until egg and cheese mixture sets, about 15 minutes.
Per serving: 277 calories, 13 grams protein, 23 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 135 milligrams cholesterol, 574 milligrams sodium
Courtesy of Royal Rose Radicchio