Eataly has a gem of a little cooking school.
I taught there in April, timed for the season’s first crop of the precious winter flower of Treviso. Because Eataly carries the uncommon long-ribbed “tardivo” variety of radicchio, I showed my class how to make a stupendous and simple dish with it: Sauteed Spaghetti with Radicchio.
The recipe appears in my most recent cookbook, Italian Home Cooking: 125 Recipes to Comfort the Soul (Kyle Books, NY and London, 2010) To buy this book click here
Radicchio belongs to the chicory family (cichorium intybus) and there are four different types:
– elongated red Verona radicchio
– variegated Castelfranco radicchio
– red globe Chioggia radicchio
– and the leggy red Treviso variety (aka “tardivo” – pictured below at the Treviso market)
The compact, round-headed Chioggia (pronounced kee-oh’-jah) variety used in salads is what what we most often find in the U.S. The notion that radicchio is for salad drives the Italians crazy. In its native land, its uses are endless, as is illustrated in a cookbook I came across in Treviso, written by a local chef named Armando Zanotto, titled il radicchio in cucina. It contains over 600 recipes for cooking it.
Nutrition note: Radicchios of all varieties are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including ample Vitamin C; their bitter note reflect their tonic and diuretic properties.
Folklore has it that before radicchio made its debut on the table the flamboyant scarlet flower was worn as a decoration on the dresses of beautifully outfitted women attending the theater.
–from Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast, by Julia della Croce (Chronicle Books, 2002) To buy this book click here