Happy Valentine's Day!
A couple of weeks ago my Italian colleague was looking for the French names for a couple of ingredients. I soon realized that he was writing down a recipe for radicchio salad. I didn't know the name for radicchio in French so when I got home I looked it up in my handy “Guide des Aliments” and e-mailed him the response “chicoree de Treviso”. The next day, he told me that was not the right name for the small round radicchio but the name for the elongated endive like one. A short discussion on the different types of radicchio and chicory ensued. This prompted me to investigate further.
He was indeed correct that the elongated ones with red leaves and white ribs that are similar in shape to endive are “Radicchio di Treviso”. They actually have IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta – status in Italy. In Belgium and Luxembourg it is known as Rood Witloof. The small red ball-shaped radicchios that resemble small red cabbages are “Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia”. It is sometimes mislabelled in other parts of Europe and the US as radicchio de Treviso.
There are several different varieties of chicory including (Belgian or French) endive, radicchio, and curly endive. The leaves of these distant cousins of dandelion have a bitter peppery taste. They are wonderful in salads but can also be cooked. The red varieties add dramatic colour to salads. The taste of chicory works well with hazelnuts, walnuts, citrus fruit and blue cheese.
I threw together this simple but dramatic salad using radicchio, pine nuts, Roquefort cheese and a simple vinaigrette.