GRILLED RED RADICCHIO
600 grams of red Treviso radicchio
extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and drain the radicchio, removing the entire root except for one centimeter (which you will trim when it is cooked) to hold the leaves together.
Cut the radicchio in two lengthwise.Heat a large cast-iron griddle well. Arrange the radicchio on the griddle and grill 3-4 minutes per side. Serve as a vegetable side dish, or with polenta toasted on the same grill.
Radicchio, a variety of chicory, is a common herbaceous plant. It may be found in both the country and in the city in every season. It is valued for its basal leaves that are delicious in salads and have a characteristic bitter taste. It is commonly considered to ease digestion and to purify the blood.
There are three different varieties of radicchio grown in the Veneto, all of which enjoy IGP certification:
The radicchio di Treviso Tardivo, ‘late’ radicchio, is called the “spadone”: this is the variety most commonly associated with this typical product of Treviso and most frequently used in cooking. It appears as an elongated bunch of tightly wrapped leaves in a nice wine-red colour, with a pronounced rib along the back and no evident secondary veins; the radicchio is crunchy when broken and the taste is slightly bitter. It may be eaten raw as a salad, with a variety of seasonings, and especially cooked: fried, grilled, stewed, as a base for risotto.
The radicchio di Treviso Precoce is known as “precocious” because it comes to the market earlier in the season (starting in September rather than December); it is also distinguished by its large elongated bunch of tightly wrapped, less fleshy but wider bright pink leaves, with a central white rib that branches out onto the leaf itself.
The variegated radicchio di Castelfranco has a totally different shape, with large soft open leaves bunched in rococo swirls; its leaves are smooth and ruffled, coloured in nuances ranging from yellow to soft green, with purple and yellow striations. The taste runs from sweet to pleasantly bittersweet and very delicate.
Radicchio di Treviso is the result of a patient process of forced whitening, which the plants undergo after harvesting; they are kept in a basin of steadily circulating water, a process that was developed by the farmers of old to keep the radicchio they produced in their fields fresh over the winter months for as long as possible.