Radicchio – A call out for recipes

by on September 23, 2009

radicchio italian red chicory

Surprises in the garden are nice. But when we forget about seeds that we had sown months before and see them as full grown edible specimens, it’s thrilling. That’s the wonderful part about so many hiding places in the garden, even we forget that have something growing in these secret places.

This week’s surprise was radicchio (red or Italian chicory) and if you ever saw them before they were cleaned out of their leafy shells, you’ll know why they’re so special.


When they’re sold, they’re normally stripped of their outter leaves and what’s left are the gorgeous red/purplish heads. Small heads of radicchio are stunning on their own and they’re like jewels of ruby red and brilliant purple balls. But what is often even more gorgeous (and edible!) are all the leaves protecting their valuable core.

radicchio italian red chicory

The protective outter leaves are broad, with stunning combinations of green, red and purple laced throughout the head. They’re edible too and make for an even more impressive plate of salad.

We harvested some radicchio early, where the heads weren’t completely red yet. What beautiful contrasts of color and texture all the different stages of radicchio explode with. Their roots are even adorable too and the whole harvest is calling out to be loved.

So what to do with all this tender garden radicchio? We haven’t decided yet because we’re still so busy photographing them!

Any suggestions or great recipes you have for this radicchio? Let us know what we should cook!

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Connie C September 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

Can you slice them thinly and include in your pasta sauce pretty much like Asian cooking has greens in noodle dishes? would it keep its color when wilted ? yellow sauce and purple would make a nice color combination, no? Or as sub for spinach? Haven’t tried it that way, just wondering.

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2 White on Rice Couple September 23, 2009 at 8:26 am

Connie -That’s a great idea because radicchio does retain most of it’s color when wilted. Thanks!

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3 Julia September 23, 2009 at 8:36 am

With the larger heads, I usually roast them with balsamic and drizzle with a little honey and truffle oil… and maybe a little tallegio and grilled bread. I like Connie’s idea of sauteeing…

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4 cara September 23, 2009 at 8:41 am

i love radicchio like this: heat a bunch of olive oil over pretty high heat. add the raddichio, quartered, and sprinkle with salt. let them get pretty browned on the edges, then remove from the heat and toss with cubes of very fresh mozzarella. the cheese evens out the vegetable’s bitterness. enjoy!

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5 april September 23, 2009 at 9:40 am

We’ve used radicchio on pizza before with delicious results. In a hot oven, they caramelize beautifully. Sorry I don’t have an exact recipe for you!

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6 Vicki September 23, 2009 at 10:57 am

I like them brushed with olive oil, grilled, then sprinkled with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

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7 Hélène September 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

Oh my love your pics of what’s growing in your garden. That radicchio looks really good.

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8 Adrienne September 23, 2009 at 11:35 am

I second Vicki’s vote for grilled – it’s awesome!

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9 Chez US September 23, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Brushed w/olive oil, grilled, sprinkled with sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon (prefer meyer) and then put in your mouth, chew, shallow!

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10 Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary September 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I prepare it pretty much the same way as Cara does. I use my cast iron pan too!

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11 matt September 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

seems like grilling and roasting is a favorite, including mine! I toss with oil, roast, sprinkle with salt and eat it with a fried egg. OMG so good.

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12 The Duo Dishes September 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

It’s still hot outside…try wraps! Something sweet and spicy inside that’ll go well with the crunch. Maybe pork? Hmmmm.

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13 Jessica@FoodMayhem September 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

You know the Lettuce Wraps that are at Chinese restaurants…it’s usually a chopped up stir fry of some sort and served in a raw lettuce leaf (like a non-carb wrap). It would be beautiful served in your garden fresh radicchio.

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14 matt September 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Toss with olive oil, grill. Lashings of salt and pepper. Serve with egg and olive tapenade.

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15 Wendy September 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I’m usually not that lucky with seeds I’ve forgotten about… My mom makes this sauce that goes with chicken – it’s simply scallions and ginger pulverized with morter and pestle and in an oil base. I’ve actually stolen her sauce, drained the oil, mixed the scallions/ginger with some mayo and used with some sort of lettuce wrap. It’s delicious.

Just stumbled upon your blog – watched the video of your garden. Anyone ever tell you y’all are super duper cute?? I love what you’ve done with that space!!

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16 Rita September 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I think someone already mentioned it, but I like to grill it (brushed with oil), then drizzle balsamic and honey and season with salt and pepper (lots of pepper). Soemtimes I top it with shaved Parmesan. It’s simple and delicious.

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17 fiOrdivanilla September 23, 2009 at 11:42 pm

this is a beautiful image!

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18 Angela@spinachtiger.com September 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

After all the super roasting recipes, pile it high with your favorite meat, pork, chicken, (leftovers), on a crusty bread, with olive oil, or better yet an aolii. Thyme is my go to herb in September.

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19 The Italian Dish September 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

This is one of our favorite ways to use radicchio – I make a radicchio risotto with grilled radicchio:
http://tinyurl.com/ye9re8n

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20 April Marie "Girl Japan" September 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I am so glad I found your blog…. I have yet to find raddicchio here (still looking).

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21 Julie September 24, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Great idea to ask for suggestions – I never know what to do with radicchio but admire it!

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22 Nirmala September 25, 2009 at 1:34 am

We South Indians usually cook any greens (if bitter do not chop) with toor dal as a “Kootu” aka stew. Even bitter greens turn delicious this way. Do not mash or chop the greens if bitter even after cooking. Or a saute in gingelly oil with lots of garlic cloves and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper is another way of consuming greens! Try out and let me know :)

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23 pam September 25, 2009 at 3:49 am

Those are beautiful! I’ve seen some recipes for it grilled, which I’ve always wanted to try.

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24 Debi (Table Talk) September 25, 2009 at 8:19 am

Here’s a delicious salad: Radicchio with Parmesan, Basil, and Prosciutto “Chips”— a post from my blog earlier this summer.
http://debishawcrossblog.com/?p=503

Beautiful photos!

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25 maybelles mom September 26, 2009 at 9:59 am

last year we used the outer leaves in pathrado and also in a salad with warm french lentils and roasted garlic dressing. we also put them in falafel pitas.

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26 maybelles mom September 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

i guess i should have said pathrado is a rolled steamed dish that is usually made with elephant ear leaves colocasia from western india.

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27 Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) September 28, 2009 at 6:29 am

stunning photography! Make a wrap and stuff with the following: http://dirtykitchensecrets.com/batinjan-makdous-preserved-stuffed-aubergines/

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28 Amy Dempster September 28, 2009 at 8:57 pm

From my CSA newsletter – terrafirmafarm.com. Now I need some radicchio!

Radicchio Salad Two Ways — The secret to salads made with bitter greens is to use strong flavors that contrast rather than highlight their intensity: salty, sweet, and tangy.
Tear apart 1 or 2 heads of radicchio, rinse the leaves well, then spin them dry and chop them roughly into bite-sized pieces.
Version 1: Make a dressing with 3 T. olive oil, 2 T. sherry or white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Crumble 2 oz. of Roquefort or other strong blue cheese. Toast 1/4 C. walnuts in a pan, and then chop them.
Slice 1 crisp apple or winter pear, adding any juice that results to the dressing.
Toss the ingredients with the radicchio and allow to sit for 5 minutes, then toss again and serve.
Version 2: Make a dressing with 3 T. finely minced green garlic, 1 1/2 T. Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 T. lemon juice, 1 T. red wine vinegar, and 3 T. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Brush one or two slices of fresh crusty bread with olive oil, then grill or toast until well browned. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
Grate or thinly slice 2 carrots.
Toss all the ingredients with the radicchio and serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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29 Lee September 30, 2009 at 4:27 am

I like to quarter it or cut into 8ths, toss with oil and roast in oven for about 15 minutes. During last five minutes, top with gorgonzola cheese. Yum

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30 Katie September 30, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Pizza! With spicy italian sausage, roasted tomatoes and parmesan. Bitter, sweet, spicy, salty, yum!!

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31 Alanna October 1, 2009 at 7:33 am

Hey guys, I’m late to your little radicchio party but here’s my favorite way to use radicchio, it’s seared radicchio or http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2008/07/seared-radicchio.html. (Sorry, not sure how your site will manage URLs and html.)

So great to meet you in San Francisco, I hope our paths cross often!

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32 Jo October 2, 2009 at 11:41 am

I would slice them in half, brush with olive oil and grill until charred. Then drizzle with really garlicy homemade cesar dressing. Wonderful along side some grilled meat.

mmm, jealous of your garden’s bounty.

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33 Penny October 5, 2009 at 11:26 am

Saute shallots in skillet in a little olive oil, add chopped radicchio and saute until wilted. Add a can of drained cannellini beans and a little chicken stock. Cook until beans are warmed and serve drizzled with a little balsalmic vinegar or lemon vinaigrette. Your garden is awesome.

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