Fifty Shades of Red
Starting January there are a lot of varieties of red-colored salads. They are called Radicchio (pronounced: RadiKKjo), Radicchio a variety of the leafy chicory) Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) is a perennial plant commonly used in Italian cuisine. It is grown as a leaf vegetable and usually has white-veined red leaves. Radicchio has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows if it is grilled or roasted.
The varieties of radicchio are named after the Italian regions where they originate: the most widely available variety in the United States is radicchio di Chioggia, which is maroon, round, and about the size of a grapefruit.
Radicchio rosso di Treviso resembles a large red Belgian endive.
Other varieties include ‘Tardivo‘ [Late], and the white-colored radicchio di Castelfranco, both of which resemble flowers and are only available in the winter months, as well as ‘Gorizia‘ (also known as “Rosa di Gorizia” or Gorizia’s Rose), ‘Trieste’ (Cicoria zuccherina or Biondissima) and ‘Witloof/Bruxelles’ (also known as Belgian endive, and “chicon/endive” in French). Radicchio farmers of the Veneto have sought to have Protected Geographical Status applied to the names of some radicchio varieties including ‘Tardivo‘.
The Queen of all of the above is the “Gorizia’s Rose.” Its production is not of an intensive type and this guarantees the product a niche market, which makes the “rose” an Italian excellence to be protected. Today it is sold at very high prices due to the high labor requirements.
Beautiful and romantic like the flower, but more tasty. Fruit of the harsh winter temperatures, this particular variety of radicchio must pass through a very long processing phase before being able to land on our tables with its characteristic shape of petals.
How to Prepare
It can be a marvel and a conversation topic when presented as an apetizer. Good with extra virgin olive oil, the Gorizia rose gives its best when used to enhance and enrich other recipes. It goes well with a number of unusual pairings.
Roses and Pears Salad
The best way to serve it on individual plates; is by slicing lenghtwise the “flowers” while trying to maintain the shapes if possible. Dressing it with a sprinkle of Olive Oil (EVO), “fleur de sel,” and a few dots of balsamic vinegar. Cut a pear in thin lenghtwise wedges and add them to the salad. A beautiful dish that will hellp the conversation, until it is tasted, because it is totally delicious!
For 4 people, 4 buds and 2 pears are plenty for an appetizer. And it is so refreshing leading the way to the other courses.