Tardivo radicchio

April 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wrote about Castelfranco radicchio last year after saying I’d becoming obsessed with trying every radicchio variety I could lay my hands on. It’s high time I returned to radicchio, originating from the Veneto region of Italy, and this time it’s the turn of the striking radicchio Tardivo. As I’ve mentioned before, I sourced my radicchio from the Natoora range of speciality vegetables and salads stocked by online supermarket Ocado. Others may get their fix from buying expensive shoes or handbags. It’s a new vegetable that does it for me…

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Many varieties are named after local towns but this one bucks the trend, tardivo simply meaning “late” in Italian. It’s produced by starting with the more common Radicchio di Treviso (which is a town in Italy) which then undergoes ra complex growing-forcing method of cultivation. This somewhat akin to our own home-grown Yorkshire rhubarb and producing a similarly startlingly-coloured beautiful plant to brighten up late winter meals. Sorry, but the season ended in March so you’ll have to wait until, say, next November to try it. Looks like I’ve been somewhat tardiva myself.

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Don’t try and put tardivo into a salad – it’s best cooked either simply as a roast vegetable (see my recipe below) or used as an intriguing ingredient in other recipes.

I was searching around for more radicchio tardivo recipes and came across this one from on Italian recipe site Giallozafferano which in turn comes from the lovely blog La Salsa Aurora.

I’ve rather freely translated it and adapted it for flour we can easily buy in the UK. Be warned I haven’t tried the recipe myself yet so can’t vouch 100% for the quantities and timings. I really like the sound of a dark rolled-up pizza-style affair and think the inclusion of rye flour should work really well with the gutsy flavour of the radicchio.

Recipe for roast radicchio tardivo

This is my own tried and tested way of cooking radicchio more or less the way the Italians do it. It makes a good accompaniment to roast pork or veal. The slight bitterness of the roast leaves is very agreeable with rich-tasting fatty meats. Sadly the glorious magenta of the leaves turns to workaday brown when roasted.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 good-sized heads of radicchio tardivo
4 tablespoons olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan). Strip off any bruised outer leaves from the tardivo, rinse it under cold running water and shake/pat it to remove excess water. Cut in half lengthwise and cut out the bottom of the root by making a small V shaped notch in each half but keeping the half piece intact. Lay the halves on a baking tray, overlapping a little if necessary. Drizzle with 2-3 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining oil. Bake for 5 minutes’ more. It is done when the root is tender. The leaves will be thoroughly wilted and brown.

Recipe for savoury strudel with radicchio tardivo and mozzarella

Adapted from a recipe found on the Italian blog La Salsa Aurora.

Makes 2 strudels – serves 6 in total

Ingredients

150g rye flour
150g Allinson Seed and Grain bread flour
3/4 teaspoon instant dried yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
160g water
a little extra virgin olive oil
150g approx of radicchio tardivo
3 mozzarella balls
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Mix together the flours, salt and yeast. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon. Leave for 10 minutes, covered, then knead in the bowl briefly and rest again for 10 minutes. Repeat twice more then lightly oil the dough, cover and leave to prove for 1 hour.

Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the filling. Drain the mozzarella balls and tear into rough pieces with your fingers. Set aside.

Wash, dry and trim the radicchio and separate it into individual leaves. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (fan).

Once the dough has proved, knock it back and divide it into two equal pieces. Roll out the first piece reasonably thinly into a rough rectangle (as if you were making a rectangular pizza) and transfer it onto a baking sheet, stretching it into shape. Scatter over half of the mozzarella and radicchio and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over half the chopped parsley. Roll up and press the dough edges together, moistening the dough to achieve a good seal. Drizzle with more olive oil and scatter a little sea salt over the surface.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

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Castelfranco radicchio

February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Since discovering the Natoora range of unusual vegetables and salads now supplied by Ocado I’ve become obsessed by trying every kind of radicchio on offer. Radicchio originates from the Veneto region of Italy and many of the varieties are named after local towns.

First up is the gorgeous Castelfranco radicchio with its cream and deep-red variegated leaves:

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It’s as pretty as an old-fashioned rose and you just have to admire it before adding it to your salad bowl:

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The delicately bitter leaves of Castelfranco are best suited to salads which brighten up the winter table. The leaves are not as delicate as they look either in flavour or texture so partner well with robust ingredients such as bacon, citrus fruits and nuts.

Here’s one of my recent slightly over-the-top lunchtime creations:

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Here are the recipes for two simpler salad recipes, the first from Italy’s legendary “Il Cucchaio d’Argento” cookbook, and the second inspired by a Skye Gyngell recipe published in 2011 in her Independent column. Finally, another “Il Cucchaio d’Argento” recipe, this time for ricotta and walnut stuffed Castelfranco leaves which are briefly blanched in boiling water before being used to encase the filling.

Recipe for Castelfranco radicchio and pancetta salad

Adapted from a recipe in Il Cucchaio d’Argento. Serves 4.

Ingredients

250g Castelfranco radicchio
200g cubed pancetta
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few spritzes of white balsamic vinegar (optional)
Lightly toasted small slices of baguette/ciabatta/country bread to serve

Detach the leaves from the radicchio head and wash and dry them carefully. Arrange them attractively on a large salad plate.

Place the cubed pancetta in a frying pan and heat gently to render the fat. Once the fat is rendered increase the heat and cook until the pancetta is lightly browned.

Pour the pancetta and its rendered fat over the Castelfranco leaves, crumble over a flew flakes of Maldon salt and a few twists of black pepper and quickly toss the salad to distribute the pancetta and its fat evenly. If likes, spritz the leaves lightly with white balsamic vinegar (you can buy it in plastic bottles fitted with an atomiser top).

Serve with lightly toasted small slices of toasted bread alongside.

Recipe for Castelfranco radicchio, orange and hazelnut salad

Adapted from Skye Gyngell’s recipe published in the Independent on Sunday in January 2011. As the author says, it makes a refreshing winter salad, perfect as a light first course.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 small to medium head Castelfranco radicchio
handful shelled blanched hazelnuts
2 oranges, preferably blood oranges
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons hazelnut oil
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves of the radicchio from the head, wash, dry carefully and tear into large pieces. Arrange in a salad bowl or on a serving platter.

Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan being careful not to let the toast too much. Chop roughly and sprinkle over the salad leaves.

Cut the peel and pith off the oranges using a very sharp and/or serrated small knife. Slice the naked oranges into pinwheel shapes and arrange these over the salad.

Finally make the dressing by whisking together in a small bowl the mustard, red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil and a little salt and pepper. Taste and add more oil,salt and pepper if required to balance out the flavours. Spoon the dressing over the salad using just as much as required as the salad should not be overdressed.

Recipe for Castelfranco radicchio rolls stuffed with ricotta and walnut

Adapted from a recipe in Il Cucchaio d’Argento. Serves 4.

Ingredients

10 large handsome Castelfranco radicchio leaves
100g ricotta
2 tablepoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
20 walnut halves (I like Serr walnuts from Chile available from Sainsbury’s)
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
butter for the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Blanch the radicchio leaves a few at a time in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Remove and set out to dry carefully on clean teatowels.

Roughly chop the walnuts and put them into a bowl along with the ricotta, a little freshly grated parmesan, salt, pepper and egg yolk. Mix thoroughly.

Put a tenth of the ricotta mixture onto each blanched radicchio leaf and roll to form a neat rolled bundle. Place each stuffed roll into a generously buttered baking dish, arranging neatly side by side.

Bake for 15 minutes and serve straight from the baking dish.

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