We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Great Radicchio Experiment of 2013

Early last week while at the market, Mike and I found ourselves discussing how much radicchio is eaten in this city. It's available everywhere, in every season, in four different varieties.  For as much radicchio as abounds here, we also noted that we don't eat it very much. And when we do eat it, it's in a salad. Bottom line- we aren't really fond of radicchio. It has a bitter taste that we are not particularly fond of.

So there we were in the market surrounded by radicchio and all sorts of people buying radicchio, but not us. I wondered what they knew that we didn't. I decided that we should give radicchio another go, perhaps we could discover ways to cook it that would be more interesting and palatable to us. I got in line and bought up radicchio.  I bought the type that is native to Treviso, but not the finger looking variety. There is also a much rounder head of radicchio that looks very much like a red cabbabe that is native to Chioggio, also close to Venice.

 Radicchio from Treviso, the Precoce variety

This one, also from Treviso, is the Tardivo variety

We ate radicchio every day this past week. I'm not kidding. Every day. First we tried a tagliolini with sausage, carmelized onions and radicchio.  Not too bad. 

Next came a lasagna with radicchio, nothing but layers of bechamel and cooked radicchio. This was just ok. We ate leftovers for 2 days.

Another lasagna came next, this time with a ragu of duck and radicchio, and more bechamel.  Better than the first lasagna. We ate this and its leftovers for 2 more days. 

I had a third lasagna to try, a slight variation on the theme using ricotta and marscapone instead of the bechamel layers. I'm sorry to say that by Friday, we could eat no more radicchio. The last lasagna attempt is going to be put off for awhile. 

The results of the experiment, you wonder?  It is unanimous. At our house, we are not radicchio lovers. We're happy we gave it a shot. The recipes we tried were interesting and forced us to step out of our radicchio comfort zone, and yes, I know, we didn't give radicicchio risotto a try. Sad to say, ..... radicchio won't be making it onto the list of vegetables we can't get enough of.  

We're not quite done with our kitchen experimenting though. Next up is the Great Finocchio (Fennel) experiment of 2013. 


fiftyfinally said...

wow...I lost count...is that 5 or 6 days of lasagna? My husband would have packed his bag after the 3rd day.

karen said...

LOL- Mike's a good sport, and the two lasagnas were SO different, it wasn't like eating the same thing that many days. But we did get our fill of radicchio. Kind of a fun experiment!

Andrew said...

It is bitter isn't it, Karen? There must be something it tastes good in. How about a sausage and radicchio risotto? We have Il cucchaio d'argento in English and there is a recipe for blanched radicchio leaves stuffed with a mixture of ricotta ,walnuts, egg yolk and Parmesan. Rolled up and baked in a greased dish for 15 minutes at 180C. Could be a waste of good ingredients!

karen said...

Andrew- we have the same cookbook, use it all the time, love it. I didn't try that recipe, maybe I should?? It does sound tempting! Hmmm...just one more radicchio dish???? What do you think??

illyria said...

Love you blog but what a pity you didn't try a risotto! A risotto made with radicchio tardivo is one of my all-time favourite dishes and people I cook it for rave about it too. I don't like bitter food or drink - can't eat endive or drink campari - and find the radicchio tardivo when cooked has a rich smokey flavour (which goes especially well with red wine) rather than a bitter taste. I can eat the round salad radicchio when mixed in with lots of other green salad leaves and have never tried the long Treviso radicchio. I just adore the tardivo variety and always bring some back to the UK from Venice when it's in season.

Andrew said...

Go on Karen. One more radicchio dish - it must be good for you.

karen said...

Andrew- yes, we will give this one a try, just not this week!!!!!

karen said...

Illyria- Thanks ! At some point, we will try a radicchio risotto. Maybe you can send me your recipe??

Dianne said...

Radicchio is not my favorite either. But I love zucchini flowers. When do they come into season in Venice? A local restaurant here in Naples, FL found a source for them here in October but that was a few years ago. I haven't had the little fried delights for a long time.

karen said...

Ciao, Diane. We see the pumpkin flowers in spring and fall. Love them! We stuff them with a filling of ricotta cheese and either chopped green onions or sundried tomatoes, then fry them. Just plain yummy. Can't eat just one!

illyria said...

Hi, Sorry for the delay - here's the recipe, it's from the wonderful book Venezia by Tessa Kiros. The recipe is for four.
About 500 g of radicchio - cut off the tough white stalks, wash and drain. Cut into quarters lengthways and then chop along the length into rustic pieces.
Heat 4 tbspns of olive oil in a pan with high sides and sauté half a chopped white onion until golden and well cooked through. Add the radicchio and half teaspoon of salt and cook for 10-15 mins until the radicchio collapses. Add a cup of red wine and let bubble up. Add 280g or risotto rice. Bubble up for few minutes to reduce the wine. Add 500ml of hot vegetable broth (eg made with a stock cube, you need approx 1.25 litres) and continue cooking and stirring regularly. Add another 500ml broth as it is absorbed for about 20 mins or until the rice is tender. Just before the rice is cooked add 250 ml broth (you might not need all of it). Turn off heat, season and stir in 1 tblespn butter and 2 tblespns grated parmesan. Serve adding black pepper and more parmesan.
I hope you do try this and enjoy it.
I have a wonderful fennel recipe for your great fennel experiment.

karen said...

Grazie, Illyria! I will give your risotto recipe a try. Please send your favorite fennel recipe also. Thanks so much!

hotel Treviso Airport said...

The radicchio is a marvelous plant and very delicious, if you know how to prepare it. Good luck experimenting!