Radicchio is an Italian salad plant related to chicory. The distinctive plant grows in a rich maroon color with white veins and has a peppery flavor that adds a textural bite to salads. It is typical of the area around Venice. There are few varieties.
Radicchio is sometimes grilled or roasted, making a pleasant counterpoint to other grilled vegetables. It is growing in popularity and can be found in most produce sections. Radicchio has been in cultivation in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years and is used in a variety of Mediterranean dishes.
Radicchio resembles lettuce most in appearance, although it is not in the lettuce family. It forms tight heads of leaves furled around a central core and grows low to the ground. Radicchio makes a startling splash of colour in the garden, and its natural bitterness makes it less subject to depredation by garden pests.
- 3 large heads of radicchio (about 3/4 pound each), cored and each cut into 8 wedges
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 500°. Lay the radicchio wedges on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crisp around the edges and just tender. Serve at once.