Vegetables and fruit, while they seem so utilitarian, can be inspiring. I love both the shape and the color of this curvy radicchio, which was for sale in the Rialto fruit and vegetable market in Venice, Italy. Radicchio Rosso di Trevios Tardivo, an Italian heirloom variety, has long slender burgundy leaves with white ribs sometimes tinged with lime green. Radicchio Tarvdivo’s crisp leaves are somewhat splayed like fingers and have a strong bitter flavor.
There are two kinds of Radicchio Rosso di Treviso: Precoce, which has fleshy red leaves with white ribs that form a compact bunch, and Tardivo (shown above), which has much more pronounced ribs and splayed leaves. Grown in the area in and around Treviso, a city north of Venice, Italy, both varieties of Radicchio have IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status, which means that they can only be sold as such if they are produced around Treviso, under the supervision of the Consorzio Radicchio di Treviso. Radicchio tardivo is harvested with a special machine, placed in tubs filled with running water held at a constant temperature of about 53°F, then finished in sand beds heated to 68°F.