Radicchio, Italian for Chicory

Radicchio is famous among Italian vegetables for its unmistakable bitterish flavor, and recipes, like risottos, that turn Treviso radicchio into hearty vegetable bliss. Sometimes mistaken for lettuce, Radicchio actually belongs to the chicory family. The colors red, pale green and white characterize the three primary varieties – the first group containing such masterpieces as Rosso di Verona and Chioggia, not to forget the aforementioned Treviso radicchio.

In line with the period in which it is harvested, radicchio is defined as “early” or “late” (precoce and tardivo). The former is sweeter, while the latter boasts the trademark bitter aftertaste. For centuries, it was the only sustenance for poor farmers. The Greeks and Romans used it as a cure for insomnia.

This vegetable indeed has medicinal properties. Rich in potassium, phosphorous, sodium, iron, magnesium, calcium, chock-full of vitamins, and amino acids. It is invigorating when seasons change, and the immune and nervous systems, together with joints are put under stress. Low in calories (14 per 100 grams), it is perfect for dieters and gourmands alike.

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