This Italian, bitter-tasting vegetable with pretty red leaves has become an increasingly popular substitute for lettuce in recent years.
- ...supports healthy vision. Radicchio is packed with retinol, which strengthens the eyes and helps support healthy skin.
- ...is good for digestion. Radicchio contains the bitter substance intybin, which stimulates the production of digestive juices in the stomach and liver.
- ...can help lower cholesterol. Too much LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood? The inulin in radicchio can come in handy here as well, as it binds fats in the intestines and thus can help lower cholesterol levels.
- ...supplies minerals. While not in large quantities, radicchio contains a potent mix of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which supports the healthy of teeth, bones, muscles and the nervous system, among other things.
- ...strengthens the immune system. The inulin in radicchio feeds the beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and thus has a positive effect on the immune system. A 100 gram serving of radicchio also contains 28 milligrams of immune-boosting vitamin C.
- ...can be too bitter for some. As healthy as the bitter substances in radicchio are, the taste may be too intense for some. If you like your radicchio a little less bitter, cut out the stalk and the thick white veins of the leaves, where most of the bitter substance intybin is stored.
What You Should Know About Radicchio
Botanically radicchio is a close cousin to endive, and has a similar taste and cultivation method.
In its original homeland of Italy, the first radicchio was harvested as early as the 16th century. Today the majority of radicchio is still cultivated in Italy, however many other countires around the world now harvest it as well. Radicchio grows in milder to colder regions.
Spring and fall are peak season for radicchio, though its harvested in greenhouses yearround.
Radicchio tastes slightly bitter, with a hint of spice.
There are many different varieties of radicchio. Specialty kinds such as radicchio di verona and radicchio di trevese are considered especially delicious.
How Healthy Is Radicchio?
Radicchio is rich in the bitter substance intybin, which has a positive effect on the blood vessels and digestion and stimulates the production of bile. As a result, radicchio has long been used as a natural remedy for a stressed stomach and intestine.
Like other vegetables, radicchio contains practically no fat and few calories, but is packed with important fiber, minerals and vitamins.
|Radicchio Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
When buying radicchio look for flawless, fresh and crisp-looking leaves. The stalk should have a beautiful scarlet cover and no brown spots.
Lengthy storage is not good for the taste or crunchy texture of radicchio. If you must store, losely wrap the radicchio in paper and keep it in your refrigerator.
Wilted or unsightly outer leaves should be removed from the radicchio and thrown away. If you prefer your radicchio a bit less bitter, simply remove the stalk by cutting it out of the whole head in a wedge shape using a small, pointed kitchen knife or by cutting the radicchio in half and then cutting the light-coloured stalk out of the middle of each half of the vegetable. Submerging the radicchio in lukewarm water for a few minutes will also yield a milder flavor.
Cleaning radicchio is easy-- simply rinse the leaves under running water and pat dry.
What To Make With Radicchio
Radicchio’s distinct, fresh flavor and beautiful scarlet leaves make it a no-brainer for salads. However you can do much more with radicchio, from filling its delicious leaves with cheese or meat fillings to steaming the lettuce to use for pasta sauce or with risotto. Italians generally like their radicchio served warm, in pasta or even on pizza.