Blooming Glen Farm | radicchio
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radicchio Tag

RadicchioRadicchio (pronounced rad-EE-key-o) is a leaf chicory common in Italian and Mediterranean cooking that is familiar to us mostly because of its inclusion in “spring mix” salads. Nutritionally, radicchio is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. It’s a very good source of vitamins C, E, and K, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.  The presence of vitamins C and E, zinc, and carotenoids, give radicchio antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect and repair cells from the damage caused by free radicals that contribute to many chronic diseases (including heart disease), cancers, inflammatory conditions (including arthritis), and immune system dysfunction.

While radicchio is clearly a great veggie to include in our diets, one issue that most people have with it — myself included! — is its bitter flavor.  This bitterness is actually due to intybin, a substance in radicchio that is beneficial to our blood and digestive systems, and is traditionally used for its sedative, analgesic, and antimalarial effects. There are two ways to diminish the bitterness: either soaking in ice water for 30 minutes (for salads and slaws), or cooking. The recipe below uses the latter method, and also the common practice of including sweet ingredients (fresh citrus, honey, raisins and figs are common in radicchio dishes) to further cut any bitterness. Note that simply soaking or cooking in no way eliminates radicchio’s bitterness, but simply lessens it.

References and recommended links:

Sautéed Radicchio & OnionsSautéed Radicchio & Sweet Onion
Ingredients
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 large Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion), sliced (~2 cups)
1 head radicchio with outer green leaves, cut into ribbons (~4 cups)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp agave (or other sweetener)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they become soft and translucent, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add vinegar and stir to blend. Add radicchio, agave, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, tossing frequently, until radicchio is tender, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled. Serving suggestions include:

  • On it’s own, topped with sunflower or sesame seeds, as a small dish or snack (pictured)
  • As a side dish, topped with chopped nuts or cheese, for diner
  • With smoked mozarella or gruyère as a topping on a white pizza
  • As a filling for an omlete or quiche
  • In a sandwich or wrap
  • With roasted garlic and oil as a pasta topping
  • With roasted veggies as a salad topping

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Radicchio is another one of those veggies most people avoid because they either 1) don’t know what the heck it is  2) don’t know how to prepare it even if they muster the courage to pick it up from the farmers’ market 3) are plagued by some bitter and unpleasant memories of the time a few leaves made their way into a salad mix. Well I’m here to tell you that you can overcome your fears…you CAN love radicchio! All it takes is a preparation that balances the pleasant bitterness of the leaves with a sweet and nutty topping.

Radicchio

Radicchio is a member of the chicory family (along with endive and frisee) and is a widely grown crop in Italy where it was first cultivated and popularized. In addition to making a delightful salad, this veggie is sturdy enough to braise and grill–a popular option for those who might not be crazy about it raw. For this recipe I chose to grill the radicchio in halves on a gas grill, but you can also use a cast iron pan or roast it in the oven.

Grilled Radicchio Salad with Pear and Pecorino

-Wash and dry:
1 head of radicchio from your share

-Cut into half and coat with olive oil
-On a medium/low heat, grill radicchio halves on each side for 4 minutes until wilty and tender. If the outer leaves get a little crispy, that’s okay! (It is more delicious that way)
-Set aside to cool slightly and in the meantime whisk together:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves of green garlic (from your share!)
4 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

-Cut up the radicchio halves into chunks and toss them with the vinaigrette. Thinly slice 1 half of a Bosc pear (or an apple) to toss in. Top with some grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve warm or at room temperature. ENJOY!

Recipe contributed by Jana Smart- Blooming Glen Farm employee and frequent creator of creative recipes uses fresh seasonal ingredients. Check out more of her recipes on her food blog http://www.agrarianeats.blogspot.com/