Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Radicchio

In the spotlight:

Each radicchio variety is named after the Italian town that boasts its birthplace. Radicchio di Chioggia is the best known variety. This variety has a sharp, intense flavor that is pleasantly bitter. It has tender but firm leaves and is a popular green in salad mixes. Commonly, the name “radicchio” refers to this variety with dark maroon leaves and white ribs growing in a round head about the size of a large grapefruit.

Serving: The round Chioggia head lends itself more to shredding and its leaves as pockets for stuffing. Radicchio can be used raw in salads or slaws and as an ingredient in a variety of cooked dishes such as pasta or risotto.

Buying tips:

With radicchio, size is a measure of freshness. A small, dry head of radicchio has had a long, hard life; it’s small now because it’s been trimmed time and again to keep it looking good.

Here are some tips about selecting a fresh head of radicchio in the produce aisle:

Look for dark red to purple leaves with small white veins.
Select tight, firm radicchio heads that feel heavy for their size.
Avoid very small heads (less than 1/2 pound) – they’re old.
Avoid heads that are pointed, misshapen or ones with loose leaves.
Royal Rose Radicchio is fresher because it is field-packed and shipped directly to distributors and retailers. Foreign grown radicchio often spends up to four weeks in route to local American distributors and retailers. Royal Rose Radicchio is available year-round.

Slaws with radicchio:

Radicchio, with its fresh, assertive bite and brilliant ruby color, gives slaw a stylish look and fresh flavor. The bitter flavor of radicchio pairs well with other strong flavors featured in slaw. Coleslaw, from the Dutch koolsla or cabbage salad, is delicious and refreshing in any culinary tradition. Here are just a few ways to create a world of slaws:

• Toss radicchio with shredded Napa cabbage, green onions, chopped almonds, mandarin orange segments and a sweet-sour vinaigrette with a touch of mustard.
• Shred radicchio, toss with some chopped green cabbage, diced mango, minced jalapeno, sliced red onion and a fresh lime juice vinaigrette with a drizzle of honey and pinch of chili powder.
• Chop a tart-crisp apple; toss with shredded radicchio, raisins and pecans; dress with a creamy buttermilk dressing.
Coarsely shred radicchio and carrot; toss with a vinaigrette spiked with a bit of sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Garnish with sliced green onion, fried wonton pieces and toasted sesame seed.
• Peel, seed, thinly slice cucumber; toss with shredded radicchio and a creamy poppyseed dressing; garnish with sliced strawberries.
• Coarsely shred radicchio and carrot; toss with a vinaigrette spiked with a bit of sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Garnish with sliced green onion, fried wonton pieces and toasted sesame seed.
• Toss coarsely chopped radicchio with baby spinach leaves, fresh grapefruit segments, golden raisins, thinly sliced onion; dress with a balsamic vinaigrette.
• Gently combine shredded radicchio and green cabbage, chopped dates, sliced oranges and toasted almonds; dress with a walnut oil and lemon juice vinaigrette. Top with a little crumbled bacon.
• Combine shredded radicchio with cabbage-and-carrot slaw mix, add sliced green onion; dress with a Thai peanut dressing and some fresh lime juice, garnish with toasted peanuts and lots of chopped cilantro.
• Toss finely chopped radicchio with baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced red onion and chopped toasted hazelnuts; dress with sweet-sour vinaigrette, crumbled bacon and celery seed.
• Coarsely shred radicchio, toss with cooked & cooled wild rice, halved green or red grapes, chopped pecans, chopped green onion; drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette and top with crumbled blue cheese.
• Dress coarsely shredded radicchio and shredded carrot with a sweet-sour vinaigrette; add chopped apple, toasted walnuts and fresh dill.

Santa Fe Slaw with Radicchio
Makes 6-8 servings

This spicy slaw pairs bitter radicchio with spicy chili powder and cilantro – a true fusion of cultures and flavors.

Ingredients:
1 head radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped or shredded (about 6-8 cups)
2 cups peeled jicama, cut into julienne strips
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
¼ large red onion, thinly sliced

Dressing:
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt

Garnish:
1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced

Method:
Place radicchio, jicama, cilantro and onion in large bowl. Stir all Dressing ingredients together in small bowl; pour over vegetables and toss to coat well; place in serving bowl. Garnish with orange slices. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Shortcut tip: Substitute bottled Buttermilk dressing for homemade dressing; add a teaspoon or two of sugar and some crushed red pepper flakes to the Buttermilk dressing before tossing with slaw.

INFO: Royal Rose Radicchio

1 comment:

Geri said...

Sounds great and radicchio is so good for you. When examined solely for its antioxidant capabilities, radiccio is an antioxidant powerhouse compared to other fruits and vegetables.