Radicchio risotto is a regional dish from the Italian region of Veneto. The name of this recipe comes from its main ingredient, radicchio, which is also called red chicory or Italian chicory. This kind of chicory has got red leaves and white veins, with a typical bitter and spicy taste, softening when grilled or roasted.
In this recipe, you can use any variety of radicchio, like Chioggia radicchio or the long-leafed variety, called Treviso. If you can’t find them, you can also use Red Belgian Endives, which have a similar bitter taste.
Red radicchio is cultivated most of the year but it grows best is Spring and Autumn.
Radicchio Risotto Recipe
What you need for 4 servings:
- 300gr italian rice arborio or parboiled
- 1 head of red radicchio
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 1L vegetable or chiken stock with salt
- 50gr butter
How to make it:
- Wash the radicchio and drain in a colander
- Melt the butter in a pot
- Cut the radicchio into slices
- Stir-fry radicchio leaves
- Add the red wine and let it evaporate
- Add the broth, stirring (the broth should cover the rice)
- Cook 20 minutes with the lid or 10 minutes in a pressure cooker
For a smoother texture and a more pronounced flavour, the recipe calls for Gorgonzola, Taleggio, or Fontina cheese to be added off the heat at the end of cooking.
Remember to keep aside some leaves of radicchio to serve the risotto!
More on Red Radicchio
The red radicchio is a kind of chicory and just like the other chicories it belongs to the botanic family Asteraceae and to the species Cichorium intybus. It is closely related to the Belgian endive.
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Like all fruits and vegetables, the color of the red chicory is due to phytochemicals, natural compounds that protect plants from sun damage. For this reason, Mediterranean plants are rich in phytochemicals. Each plant species has a particular cocktail of these molecules, making them unique.
Scientific research has highlighted the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, not only because they provide fibers and vitamins but also for the presence of phytochemicals, like lycopene and anthocyanins. These molecules have numerous health benefits: from reducing inflammation to preventing some types of cancer.
In particular, the red leaves of radicchio contain lycopene, which is also present in tomato, and a high amount of anthocyanins, “comparable or superior to many foods having well-known antioxidant properties such as red wine, blueberry, and tomato”(3).
Reserach and Innovation
- Red chicory extract may be used as a natural colorant/antioxidant in foods (1)
- Development of new food supplements to improve intestinal health (2)
(1) Migliorini AA, et al., Red Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Extract Rich in Anthocyanins: Chemical Stability, Antioxidant Activity, and Antiproliferative Activity In Vitro. J Food Sci. 2019 May;84(5):990-1001. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.14506. Epub 2019 Apr 4. PMID: 30945309.
(2) D’evoli L, Morroni F, et al., Red chicory (Cichorium intybus L. cultivar) as a potential source of antioxidant anthocyanins for intestinal health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:704310. doi: 10.1155/2013/704310. Epub 2013 Aug 27. PMID: 24069504; PMCID: PMC3771420.
(3) Rossetto M, et al., Red chicories as potent scavengers of highly reactive radicals: a study on their phenolic composition and peroxyl radical trapping capacity and efficiency. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 19;53(21):8169-75. doi: 10.1021/jf051116n. PMID: 16218660.