Radicchio is a bitter “green” that is part of the chicory family. Eaten raw, it has an acerbic quality that benefits from strong additions such as blue cheese, balsamic vinegar, citrus, and nuts. The flavor will mellow when grilled or roasted. In Italy, the green is usually brushed with olive oil and grilled. In the United States, it is most often mixed into salads.
Radicchio has been around a long time. Pliny, in his Naturalis Historia, noted that it is good for insomnia as well as purifying the blood. He also mentions that the Egyptians are the ones who bred radicchio from its ancestor chicory.
Radicchio’s bitterness is due to intybin, which stimulates the appetite and digestive system, and acts as a tonic for the blood and liver. Its also a potent anti-malarial agent and has a sedative and analgesic effect. Its leaves are an excellent source of antioxidants such as zea-xanthin and lutein, which help protect the eyes from age-related macular disease by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays. Fresh leaves contain moderate amounts of essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). Radicchio is also an excellent source of vitamin K. For more information about radicchio, check out Sally and Tanya’s take on it.
Some Radicchio Recipe Ideas for you to try: