Radicchio (pronounced ra-dee-kyoh) is so much more than that bitter red cabbagey stuff found in bags of mixed greens.
This cool weather crop, from the same family as daisies, packs a punch in the flavor and nutrient department.
Radicchio, a leaf chicory, is grown as a leaf vegetable in the form of a wine red compact head (like cabbage) with defined bold white veins. It generally has a bitter or spicy flavor in its uncooked state. Eaten raw it is certainly an acquired taste but adds a bold depth to fresh lively salads. It is especially highlighted when paired with citrus. Try a mix of radicchio, blood orange and quinoa with your favorite nuts or seeds. The flavor and texture will blow your mind.
If bold, spicy and slightly bitter isn’t your thing, try it roasted or sautéed. The flavor calms down and sweetens slightly the way cabbage does but with a flavor you won’t find in any other leaf vegetable.
Aside from bold flavor and color, this little head of leaves is a plentiful source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant phytonutrients.
Radicchio is also a great source of selenium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate and potassium.
The practical benefits of radicchio for straight up health include:
* Overall wellness (antioxidants)
* Improved digestion and reduced cholesterol (promoted bile production)
* Bone and neural health as well as treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (vitamin K)
* Ocular health (phenolic flavonoid antioxidants)
Do we really need a list a mile long of health benefits to add something tasty and new to our veggie regimen? Not likely, but it helps to know that every crunch and munch of this plant’s goodness is fighting for your health.
If you haven’t given it a chance, or it’s been a while since you savored its full flavored leaves, it may be time to give radicchio a go.