May 102011
Spaghetti with Radicchio

photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

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

Teaching at Eataly, where you can find radicchio tardivo and Veneto's delicate extra-virgin olive oil with which to cook it.

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  7 Responses to “At Eataly with Julia: Stalking Italy’s Winter Flower”

  1. Looks and sounds delicious and I have your book! So will definitely make this soon.
    Can you suggest other places where one might find RADICCHIO TARDIVO in New York other than Eataly? Could I use a combination of the round radicchio that is in all supermarkets and some endive?

    • If you can’t get the tardivo variety of radicchio, you can substitute the common globe-headed Chioggia type, although it doesn’t have the more intense flavor of the first. Try it with chicory or endive, which are both in the cultivated cichorium intybus family–these will also result in a pleasantly bitter-sweet sauce. –JdC

    • About where else to find it: grocers who specialize in vegetables such as Fairway in New York, Whole Foods anywhere.

      • Not worried about meat, since we are unemhasad meat eaters. This is a radicchio comment! Sorry, but we really couldn’t get on with the radichio this week! I’m looking primarily for a vegetable to eat as a vegetable, but will use up left-overs in soups or casserole. This was too bitter to be anything but a flavour to be countered in a more complicated dish, with greasier flavours. (Rather like the parsley, really, for which I found no use at all, even as a contributor the the usual catch-all soup, and which sadly ended up in the food waste.)Carrots and other vegetables continue very good with flavours lke home grown! Onions are welcome, also leeks, and some variety beyond that. Potatoes starting to get easy to turn to a mush but that probably needs me to cook them more carefully.

      • About radicchio, yes it is bitter–when raw. When cooked, as in my recipe (included in the post), the flavor changes radically. Some people like that taste sensation naturally; for others it’s an acquired taste.

  2. Just setting it up. Keep in touch!

  3. Facebook page is Julia della Croce. A presto…

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