suggests we stock our shopping carts with these fresh fat-fighting picks this winter. Here's
Crisp and peppery, this rich red chicory adds zing to salad, especially when combined with other greens. Or, broil till brown and crisp to make a toasty “bed” for sausage or steaks. “The high fiber content keeps you feeling satiated,” says Pachella (Sophie Pachella, an ACE-certified weight-loss expert and founder of sophieyogurt.com).
tells us that
- Radicchio is a quick growing Mediterranean red coloured leafy vegetable. It is actually one of the varieties of leaf chicory used in salads in Veneto regions of Italy for centuries. Its wine-red succulent, bitter flavored leaves hold several unique compounds like lactucopicrin (intybin), zea-xanthin, vitamin K and several other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Binomially, this beautiful leafy vegetable belongs to the Asteracae or daisy family, of the genus: Cichorium.
- Scientific name: Cichorium intybus L.
- Radicchio is a perennial, small cabbage like plant. It prefers cool weather supplanted with well draining, fertile, moisture rich soil. The crop is ready to harvest after about 75-90 days after seedling. Hot weather and inadequate watering might results in small, dense, and bolting heads. Well-grown radicchio features compact wine-red color leaves with prominent white veins about the size of a romaine leaves with prominent white veins about the size of romaine lettuce head.
- Different cultivars are grown generally by the name of Veneto provincial cities. Chioggia variety has compact, beet-red, bitter leaves. Treviso variety has been less pungent, long, conical, compactly arranged leaves. Radicchio variegate di Castlefranco is a hybrid between radicchio and endive (Cichorium endiva). Castlefranco has loose, mild flavor leaves. Verona is another non-heading type and has red color, open leaves with broad white veins as in cabbage.
- Radicchio, like other chicory class vegetables, is very low in calories. 100 g fresh leaves provide just 23 calories.
- The bitter principle in the radicchio is lactucopicrin (intybin), a sesquiterpene lactone. Lactucopicrin is a potent anti-malarial agent and has a sedative and analgesic (painkiller) effect.
- Its leaves are an excellent source of phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as zea-xanthin and lutein. 100 g leaves provide 8832 µg of these pigments. Zea-xanthin is a xanthophyll category of flavonoid carotenoid (yellow pigment) which concentrates mainly in the central retina in the eyes. Together with lutein, it helps protect eyes from age-related macular disease (ARMD) by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
- Fresh leaves contain moderate amounts of essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Fresh radicchio is one of the excellent sources of vitamin K. 100 g provides about 255.2 µg or 212% of daily-recommended values. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Further, adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
- Further, it is an also good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron, zinc, and potassium. Manganese is used as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.
- At its natural habitat, radicchio is a cool-season vegetable. Although it is grown in some parts of USA, a majority of it is imported from the Mediterranean, especially from the Italy. Some of the varieties are grown and marketed around the year in California region.
- If you grow in the home garden, ensure the edible head is blanched appropriately before harvest as in endives. In some parts, forced second growth (heads) are harvested, whereas the green, bitter, first heads discarded. To harvest, cut the round, compact head off the root and trim away all the outer copper-green leaves as in cabbage.
- In the markets select fresh, compact, bright wine-red colored heads with prominent mid-ribs. Closely look for cracks, spots, or mechanical bruising on the leaves. Treviso and Chioggia should have tight, compact leaves, whereas Verona type features open, loose leaves.
- At home, store inside the refrigerator set at temperature below 8 °C with relative humidity of around 90% for up to 2-3 weeks.
- Radicchio is used mainly as leafy salad vegetable. Raw leaves have been sharp, pungent in flavor. Exposure to more intense daylight makes its leaves bitter, which is somewhat mellowed once cooked.
- To prepare, trim the outer leaves as you do it in cabbage. Wash the head in cool running water. Cut the head into quarters, wedges, and use in cooking.
Some serving tips:
- Radicchio is a favorite winter-season salad vegetable in Southern Europe. Raw leaves are eaten in Italy in salads. In the USA, however, lightly stewed leaves are preferred.
- Its chunks are grilled gently with added olive oil, artichoke hearts, and beans in a delicious radicchio salad.
- Radicchio risotto and pasta are popular winter recipes in the Northern Italian region.
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Radicchio and Endive Salad
("A change for a salad. Very simple and so good!")
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
fresh ground pepper
1 medium radicchio, sliced thin ( 8-10 Oz.)
2 medium Belgian endive, sliced thin ( 4-6 Oz. each)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together Vinegar, Oil, Honey; Season with Salt and Pepper.
2. Add radicchio and endive; Toss to Coat
Nutritional info per serving:
Calories - 119.2
Total Fat - 7.2 g
Saturated Fat - 1.0 g
Cholesterol - 0.0 g
Sodium - 56.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates - 12.9 g
Dietary Fibre - 7.9 g
Sugars - 4.9 g
Protein - 3.2 g
A low glycemic index food.