Region of Origin

Commodity:

Radicchio

Origin

Radicchio is a cultivated variety of chicory, a diverse plant species known for its bitterness. Radicchio has been prized as a medicinal vegetable and feed crop in the Mediterranean region since the times of Pliny the Elder, but cultivation of modern varieties is believed to have begun in Northern Italy in the 1400s. The technique of forcing and blanching for bright white stems were developed in t...

Other Names

Leaf Chicory, Cicoria (Italian)

Health Benefits & Nutrition

Radicchio has been used for centuries as a medicinal tonic. In Roman times, Pliny the Elder praised it as a blood purifier and natural sedative. It has been used in traditional medicine in Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia to treat everything from mild digestive ailments to diabetes to kidney and liver disorders. Some animal-based studies suggest that chicories may even have effective anti-cancer properties. Radicchios are rich in folate, vitamins K and E, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Purple and red varieties are also rich in the phenolic antioxidant, anthocyanin.

Varieties

Chioggia Radicchio

AKA: Red chicory, Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia

Example Cultivars

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Description

The most widely available variety in both Italy and the USA, Chioggia has deep red-to-maroon leaves with stark white veins. Chioggia radicchio grows as a tightly formed head, with firm, compact leaves that overlap one another. The leaves are fleshy and crisp, and the flavor is bracingly bitter.

Variety Tips & Tricks

A great, relatively budget-friendly candidate for a colorful, bitter addition to salad blends. A solid candidate for braising or grilling that becomes milder, almost sweet, when cooked – just make sure to allow time for the inner leaves to cook, as the tightly packed center can take longer to soften.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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USA (CA)
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Good

Castelfranco Radicchio

AKA: Rose of Winter, Castelfranco Variegato (Italian), Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco IGP, Castelfranco

Description

Castelfranco’s blossoming shape looks much like a late season rose. It has creamy pale white-to-green leaves that are voluminous and dotted with crimson colored speckles. The leaves are overall much more delicate than the standard Chioggia radicchio variety. Castelfranco leaves offer a bitter flavor with sweet undertones.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Castelfranco is traditionally eaten raw in salads, but is well suited to risottos, baked atop pizzas, or – to call forth the inherent sweetness - grilled, braised, or broiled.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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Italy
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USA (CA)
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Good

Rosa del Veneto Radicchio

AKA: Pink Radicchio

Description

Rosa del Veneto radicchio is shaped similarly to the Chioggia variety and has uniform, compact leaves that are a distinct soft pink to light purple color. The flavor of the leaves are mild with sharp and sweet undertones. Once cooked, the radicchio develops a tangy taste.

Variety Tips & Tricks

This variety can be substituted in both raw and cooked applications where Chioggia is called for. Rosa del Veneto adds a beautiful splash of color to salads and other dishes.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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Italy
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Tardivo Radicchio

AKA: Fiori d’Inverno, Flowers of Winter, Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Late (Tardivo) IGP, Tadicchio Tardivo, Tardivo, Treviso Tardivo

Description

Tardivo radicchio has unique, long, slender, curling burgundy leaves (comparable to a set of fingers), with white ribs. Its unique shape and coloring are achieved through a forced growth technique which takes place post-harvest. The leaves are crisp and have a bold, bitter flavor.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Tardivo radicchio is often served roasted or grilled and drizzled with olive oil as a side dish. It can be incorporated into a vast array of applications including red sauces, stews, risottos, or baked into strudels.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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Italy
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Treviso Radicchio

AKA: Radicchio di Treviso, Radicchio Precoce, Treviso, Treviso Precoce, Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Early (Precoce) IGP

Description

Treviso Precoce can vary in size, with the head sometimes resembling Belgian endive, other times romaine lettuces. Treviso Precoce has a wide white rib and dark crimson, elongated ruffled leaves that overlap one another tightly to from a compact bunch. The crisp, sturdy leaves are earthy and mildly bitter in taste with sweet undertones.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Treviso Precoce is best suited to pasta fillings, in salads, or grilled.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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Italy
Fair
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USA (CA)
Good
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Good

Foodservice Tips

Traditional Culinary Uses

Radicchio is a staple in most Mediterranean diets. It frequently appears in recipes for salads, soups, risottos, pastas, and pizzas. Radicchio is commonly enjoyed raw in America, but in Europe it is most often served warm. Radicchio does indeed make a fine salad green with its bracing bitterness that can stand up to bold vinaigrettes. Radicchio is well suited to grilling, braising, roasting, and sautéing.

Flavor Pairings

Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Black Pepper, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Prosciutto, Pancetta, Duck Fat, Anchovies, Caviar, Egg Yolk, Lemon, Grapefruit, Fennel, Shallot, Arugula, Parsley, Marjoram, Olives, Cognac, Blue Cheese, Hard Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Cream-based Sauces, Walnuts, Pecans

How to Store & Use in the Kitchen

Store radicchio wrapped in a damp paper towel in a clean bag or container in the crisper or isolated part of the walk-in away from light and ethylene-producing items like apples or pears. Tightly packed head radicchio varieties may keep for up to two weeks, but loose varieties should be used within a few days to avoid browning. If the outer leaves look wilted or limp, simply tear them away before preparing the rest of the head. Radicchio can be used like lettuces or cooked like escarole.

Fight Food Waste Tips for root to stem cooking

Even the center core of radicchio is edible. Try grilling or braising quartered heads and the stem will become tender and delicious!

Warehouse Storage & Handling

Maintain these conditions for optimal short-term storage shelf life.*

IDEAL STORAGE TEMP:

32-34°F

RECOMMENDED TEMP STORAGE ZONE:

32-39°F (Cold Storage)

SUBJECT TO CHILLING INJURY:

Yes, radicchio stored below 31°F will experience freezing injury, which includes translucent spots on leaves that decay quickly.

IDEAL RELATIVE HUMIDITY:

95-100%

PRODUCES ETHYLENE:

No

SENSITIVE TO ETHYLENE:

Yes

Important Handling Notes

Radicchio is sensitive to temperature fluctuations and light. Maintain the cold chain at all times and avoid storing near windows or other sources of natural light.

Optimum Shelf Life

Depending on variety, conditions at harvest, and handling, tightly packed radicchio varieties may last up to 2-3 weeks, while loose leaf varieties may only last 1-2 weeks.

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