Hand drawn image of Radicchio

Radicchio

Cichorium intybus var. foliosum

We have been growing radicchio for years, trying to convert more customers to this vibrant winter leaf. Italians are crazy about its bold, bitter flavour: raw in salads, or griddled or roasted until mellow, radicchio can revive a palate jaded by stodgy cold-weather cooking.

Image of Radicchio being produced

In the kitchen

Storage

Radicchio should keep well in the fridge as a whole head for at least a week, possibly two. If you’re using it in several sittings, peel off the outer leaves first, rather than cutting it in half. Fresh from the fields, so wash well before use.

Prep & Cooking tips

Although tightly packed, it is always worth washing the leaves before using. For salads, the small internal leaves can be kept whole; the larger ones are best torn into smaller pieces. If cooking it, you can shred it like you would a cabbage or cut it lengthways into long curved wedges for roasting or grilling.

You can use it raw in salads; the bitter taste can be balanced out by pairing it well with plenty of sharp and salty flavours, or mixing it with milder leaves. The leaves also hold up well to cooking – try it shredded into a risotto, grilled in wedges or in a bubbling, creamy gratin.

Video: How to Cook Radicchio

Easy ideas

The trick is to balance it well with sharp, salty and sweet flavours.

1. Salad

People have most often come across radicchio as a flash of colour in a mixed salad bag. It can work well to balance it with milder leaves, but a sharp, acidic dressing is a must. Strangely, the sourness of lemon juice or vinegar is a great tonic for excessive bitterness; this seems counterintuitive to many people as the two flavours are often confused with each other. Try dressing with a good vinaigrette and throwing it with some diced apple, toasted walnuts and some crumbled blue cheese.

2. Wilted

Try shredding some and frying it for a few mins in a little oil and butter. Add some garlic, cream, parmesan and a squeeze or two of lemon for a quick pasta sauce. Use it as the start of a classic risotto, using red wine in place of white to complement the colour. Or use it as a side dish, maybe flecked with some chopped crispy bacon, mustard and parsley.

3. Griddled or roasted

Cut it into stocky wedges and turn them in a little oil, salt and pepper. You can cook them on a griddle for a few mins until starting to wilt, or put them in a hot oven for 10 mins until darkened and starting to collapse. Dress them with olive oil and a quality vinegar of your choice. We often serve them tumbled with slices of roasted squash, dark lentils and fresh herbs. They make a good side for roast pork, especially when served with a sharp apple sauce.

Goes well with

Anchovies
Cheese (Blue, Parmesan, Goat's)
Cream
Crème fraîche Eggs
Lemon
Mustard
Nuts (Hazelnuts, Walnuts)
Pork (Bacon, Ham)
Sweet fruits (Apple, Fig, Pear, Persimmon, Poached quince)
Vinegar (Especially sweet ones - balsamic, sherry)

Radicchio recipes

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In the field

  • Meet the grower: Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford on Wash Farm, Devon.

    Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson started the business at Wash Farm in South Devon in 1987, and we’ve been growing organic veg at Wash ever since.

    Read more

Seasonality

A perfect green for the autumn due to its frost tolerance, its typically in season from September to December.
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