Of all the fall vegetables of the Pacific Northwest, radicchio may fly the lowest under the radar. Wine-red with a head of sturdy, waxy leaves, it’s often mistaken for cabbage. Radicchios’ heads, though are more cylindrical than cabbages,’ and it’s color trends more burgundy than purple. It’s also shockingly flavorful. Radicchio has a bitterness that can be off-putting if unexpected, but made use of with intentional preparation.
Radicchio is an Italian name for a group of plants in the chicory family. Italian farmers have been growing it for a long time, but it’s niche in America is small. Despite it’s bitterness, there’s a lot to like about radicchio–it’s very healthy and, to quote Barbara Kafka, “the tonic bitterness is extremely agreeable as a contrast to rich or fatty flavors.”
Radicchio leaves are sturdy enough to withstand some serious cooking, though, so there are lots of creative ways to prepare them. Seasoned and roasted, grilled, or simmered in a soup, it will soften but hold onto a nice crunchiness.
The radicchio heads you have seen in your OxBoxes are of the Treviso variety, with dark, cylindrical heads. Radicchio should be easy to find at farmers’ markets throughout the fall.
Radicchio will store well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This article appeared in our newsletter September 14. Sign up to receive it.