This red-leafed Italian vegetable is most often used as a salad green (well, more accurately, a salad red, I suppose). There are several varieties of radicchio, but the two most widely available in the North America are Verona and Treviso. The radicchio di Verona has burgundy-red leaves with white ribs, and grows in a small, loose head. The leaves of radicchio di Treviso are narrow and pointed and form tighter, more tapered heads. They too have white ribs but can range in color from pink to dark red. Other radicchio varieties have variegated or speckled leaves in beautiful shades of pink, red and green. All radicchios have tender but firm leaves with a slightly bitter flavor, a characteristic shared, Ouroboros speculates, with all reddish lettuce and endive.
When buying radicchio of any variety, choose heads that have crisp, full-colored leaves with no sign of browning. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Besides being used in salads, radicchio may also be cooked by grilling, sautéing or baking.