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.

I find the flavor of radicchio too strong for salads. Mustard greens provide a nice crisp addition to a salad without the strong bitter that I get from radicchio.

My favorite treatment for radicchio goes like this:

  • Preheat a barbecue grill (preferably) or a frying pan while getting the food ready.
  • Leaving the root of the head intact to help hold everything together, slice young firm heads into 3/4 inch wide slices.
  • Spritz a thin coating of good olive oil on one side of the slices, placing that side down on the heat source. Spritz another thin coat on the other side.
  • Lightly salt and pepper the radicchio on the top side.
  • When the down side is very hot but before it's changing texture much, flip the slices and add your favorite mild blue cheese -- I typically use Stilton or Gorgonzola. (I've also used a combination of Feta and Parmigiano.)
  • Sprinkle a little pepper on the crumbled cheese.
  • Lay thickly sliced pears on the grill next to the radicchio slices.
  • When the bottom side of the radicchio slices is very hot, lift them off onto plates, top them with the grilled pear slices, and sprinkle with a plain vinaigrette.

This is good immediately or refrigerated for a later meal and served chilled. Pair it with a wine that is weightier than people usually suggest, Cabernet Sauvignon is a fine companion for this dish.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.