Radicchio (/rəˈdɪki/ or /rəˈdki/; Italian pronunciation: [raˈdikkjo]) is a leaf chicory (Cichorium intybus, Asteraceae), sometimes known as Italian chicory, and is a perennial. It is grown as a leaf vegetable which usually has white-veined red leaves. It has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted.

In Northen Italy the cultivation of chicory is very old and has always been practiced, but poorly documented because it was considered "the food of the poor people." Today, however, radicchio has become a gastronomic excellence and part of the menu of the top italian chefs


Wedding of Cana 1579-82 By Leandro dal Ponte Bassano
Radicchio on the detail


Pliny the Elder  (AD 23 –AD 79, roman author and naturalist) claimed radicchio was useful as a blood purifier and an aid for insomniacs in Naturalis Historia. In fact, radicchio contains intybin, a sedative/analgesic, as well as a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, and vitamins B, C and K, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium.

Modern cultivation of the plant began in the fifteenth century, expecially in the Veneto region of Italy.

The varieties of radicchio are named after the Italian regions where they originate: the first in harvest (october/november) is radicchio di Chioggia, which is red-maroon, round, and about the size of a grapefruit.

In Italian cuisine, it is usually eaten grilled in olive oil, or mixed into dishes such as risotto.

It can also be served with pasta, as a poultry stuffing, or as part of a tapenade.

Two tipical recipe in italian families are Pasta with Radicchio, Grana Cheese And Prosciutto Ham; and Fennel and Radicchio Salad

Garganelli Pasta With Grana Padano Cream, Prosciutto Di Parma, And Radicchio
Garganelli Pasta With Grana Padano Cream, Prosciutto Di Parma, And Radicchio

Easy pasta recipe: traditional Italian garganelli with Grana Padano, Parma Ham and radicchio, by Chef Michael White from New York

Info box
  • Preparation time20 m
  • Cooking time10 m
  • Recipe cuisineItalian

Put all but 11 g of the (1 ½) cups of grated cheese in a large, deep, heat resistant bowl.
Pour 187,5 ml of boiling chicken stock over the cheese and, using an immersion blender, blend on high speed until the cheese begins to melt.
Or transfer the mixture to the jar of an electric blender and blend on high speed.
With the blender running, add the 30 ml olive oil and truffle oil (if using) and continue blending until the sauce is smooth and emulsified.
When blended, pour the sauce into a small pan, cover and keep warm over very low heat.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the onion is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the radicchio, prosciutto, the remaining (1 cup of) boiling chicken stock, and thyme.
Return to a boil then adjust the heat down to medium-low and simmer until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, then drain.
For dried pasta, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
While the pasta is boiling, remove the sauce from the heat.
Stir in the reserved grated cheese.
Add the pasta to the sauce and turn to coat evenly.
Divide the pasta among 4 large plates.

Sprinkle with additional cheese, ground black pepper, drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta and serve at once.

Fennel and Radicchio Salad with Gorgonzola

Fennel and Radicchio Salad with Gorgonzola

Insalata trevigiana is an Italian salad from the city of Treviso, near Venice, with radicchio and fennel topped by Gorgonzola cheese

Info box
  • Preparation time10 m
  • Recipe cuisine Italian

Cut off the fennel leaves and reserve for the garnish. Wash the fennel, remove the hard core and thinly slice the bulb. Put into a bowl. Wash and trim the radicchio, shred, but not too finely, and add to the bowl.

Roughly chop the walnuts, dice the Gorgonzola and add both to the salad. Roughly chop the parsley. Make a dressing from the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey and parsley.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix well. Serve immediately garnished with fennel leaves.