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Green radicchio looks very much like a head of Cos (Romaine) lettuce, with all of the bitterness and flavor of Radicchio. Pulling away the dark, oblong-shaped green outer leaves reveals a light green to almost yellowish-white center of tightly clustered leaves. Green radicchio is the mildest of the radicchio varieties. The flavor is sweet with a hint of bitterness and a distinct crisp, crunchy texture. Cooking Green radicchio will mellow its bitterness even more.
Green radicchio is available through the fall and winter months.
A member of the Composite or Asteraceae family Green radicchio is more commonly known as Sugarloaf chicory or Pain de Sucre in French and Blanc di Milan in Italian. Botanically part of Cichorium intybus, Green radicchio is a perennial heading variety of chicory that is most often grown as an annual. The most commonly grown varieties of radicchio in Italy today are radicchio Verde Selvatico and radicchio Verde Pan di Zucchero.
Green radicchio can be used in fresh applications such as a salad or as an edible cup or wrap, it is also sturdy enough to hold up in cooked preparations. It can be grilled, baked, roasted, sautéed, poached or boiled into soup, stews and risottos. Its hardiness makes it ideal as part of a bed of greens for grilled meats. Green radicchio’s subtle bitterness compliments fatty, salty and tart ingredients such as citrus, pears, cream based dressings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pork, anchovies, garlic, polenta and robust cheeses. To store keep refrigerated in plastic and use within two to three weeks.
The name Sugarloaf is a nod to the elongated shape of Green radicchio, resembling a solid conical form of sugar called “Sugarloaf” which was how sugar was sold up until the invention of granulated and cubed sugar in the late 19th century.
Like many varieties of chicory, Green radicchio is native to the Veneto region of Italy. It is commonly found in the dishes of Milan and is used in the springtime in France. The hearty green grows best in the cool months, and its real flavor comes through in the harsher, cooler conditions. Green radicchio has even been known to grow under the snow. A non-forcing type of chicory Green radicchio is self-blanching and does not require a second growth period to produce a mild flavored and lightly hued heart of leaves. This variety of radicchio is not popular or widely grown in the United States, though it is seen more and more at local farmer’s markets and in CSA boxes.
Recipes that include Green Radicchio. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Madison Dinner Club||Baked Sugar Loaf Radicchio with Sweet Potatoes|
|Sustenance: A Food & Culture Blog||Sugar Loaf and Endive Salad with Grainy Mustard Sauce|
|Anne's Odds and Ends||Green Radicchio & Spinach Salad with Mushrooms & Sunflower Seeds|