Lustrous crimson leaves of Radicchio
Last winter my Italian-Australian friends at the community garden introduced me to that confusing tribe of vegetables variously known as Chicory, Radicchio and Endive. I was familiar with curly Endive whose pale frissy leaves catch at the back of your throat in a salad mix and the Belgian Witloof which is wonderful baked with ham and cheese but I had never tried Chicory pan di zucchero or the bright red radicchio rossa di Verona or palla rossa. I have just planted seed of the latter which should be ready for picking in about 12 weeks though there will be plenty of baby leaves in the meantime. Glancing at an Italian cookbook I like the sound of Radicchio con purea di fagioli which uses the leaves dressed with vinaigrette and topped with a cooked bean puree.