The increasingly sophisticated American palate has discovered the strengths of radicchio — its alluring color, satisfying bitterness, and refreshing crunch. Nothing compliments the complexity of this Italian chicory better than a rich cheese; like spaghetti and meatballs, radicchio and cheese belong together. Great chefs have long known that we begin the dining experience first with our eyes, and radicchio holds great visual appeal, with its vibrant, wine-colored leaves that brighten any dish. Then comes mouth-feel, and few foods can match this versatile vegetable’s texture that lends a cool, refreshing crispness to the plate. Finally, as we chew, flavor hits our 10,000-plus taste buds, and radicchio’s peppery, slightly bitter essence provides a soothing counterbalance to the other flavors of salt, sweet and sour. Whether a cheese is creamy, or salty, or sweet, it allows for the multi-dimensional flavor characteristics of the radicchio.
Like radicchio, cheese is protected and categorized by its geographic origin in Italy. DOP stands for denominazione d’origine protetta, or protected designation of origin. Italian cheeses were made according to a certain historical method in an approved region, made according to time-honored and internationally permitted methods. Italy is appropriately famous for its formaggi, with over 450 varieties of cheese used in cooking, eaten with meals, and paired with food and wine. Here are a few of our favorite radicchio recipes using complimentary cheeses:
Radicchio Wrapped Goat Cheese
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
12 Royal Rose™ radicchio leaves, blanched slightly in simmering water to soften
3 - 4 ounce logs goat cheese cut into rounds
6 small tomatoes (yellow and orange if available), sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
Whisk first four ingredients together. Arrange leaves on work surface. Brush center of each leaf with marinade. Place cheese rounds in center of each leaf. Fold up leaf around cheese creating bundles, cover and chill. Heat seasoned grill to medium-high. Brush each wrap with dressing and grill until cheese softens and leaves slightly char. Arrange tomatoes slices on plate, place bundles on top Drizzle with remaining dressing, salt and pepper. Option: garnish with fresh thyme or chives.
Cheese Trio & Radicchio Pizza
2 balls(8 to 10 oz. each) favorite pizza dough
Flour as needed
Cornmeal as needed, if desired
6 oz. sun dried tomatoes in herbed olive oil, julienne-cut
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz. Royal Rose™ radicchio, coarsely shredded
4 oz. diced pancetta, prosciutto, or cooked bacon
4 oz. shredded Mozzarella
3 oz. shredded Fontina cheese
2 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Crust: Heat oven to 475 F. Sprinkle flour on a clean smooth surface and stretch dough using your hand or rolling pin to flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thick circle. Transfer dough to spray-coated or cornmeal-dusted 12-inch pizza pans. Continue stretching to fit pans.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of herbed olive oil in a small bowl. Blend in garlic and red pepper flakes. Brush oil onto crusts. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, just until crust begins to brown.
Topping: Top each crust with 3 oz. sun dried tomatoes, 2 oz. radicchio, 2 oz. pancetta, 2 oz. Mozzarella. 1.5 oz. Fontina, and 1 oz. Gorgonzola. Bake additional 5 to 7 minutes until cheese melts and begins to brown. Remove from oven; sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Royal Rose, LLC
1120 Growers Street
Salinas, CA 93901
Background on Royal Rose The Company:
The “Salad Bowl of the World” gained some much-needed color, flavor and crunch in 1993 with the formation of Royal Rose Radicchio of Salinas, Calif. It proved to be the perfect combination ¾ Old World vegetable meets New World agriculture power ¾ and the results have been delicious.
Royal Rose took to growing and shipping four varieties of radicchio, a member of the chicory family that is revered in Italy and throughout Europe as a fresh, zesty addition to salads, pastas, pizzas and more. The vibrant color, pleasing bitterness and unmistakable crunch come together to form a unique addition to any meal.
It all started when Italian farmers Lucio Gomiero and Carlo Boscolo teamed up with Salinas Valley growers John Tamagni and A. W. Johnson & Son in the late 1980s. Gomiero, a winemaker by trade, had the idea of bringing Boscolo’s proprietary seed varieties and 50 years of radicchio growing in Italy to the United States. Gomiero believed there was a new market for this unique and versatile vegetable.
With the packaged salad revolution about to explode, the timing couldn’t have been better. Royal Rose turned a seasonal vegetable into a year-round treat, following the sun through four growing regions to supply the growing market with field-fresh radicchio.
Led by company president Dennis Donohue (who also happens to be current mayor of Salinas), Royal Rose’s Fresher-Bigger-
Royal Rose is also committed to education. Its new marketing campaign “What's A Salad Without Radicchio?” reflects an ongoing commitment to promoting and popularizing radicchio.
Radicchio has begun to enjoy mainstream acceptance by consumers. McDonald’s now includes radicchio in its premium salads in many markets, and chefs all over the country have come to look beyond the salad, holding the versatile vegetable in high esteem and using it raw, grilled or sautéed and in a variety of specialized dishes.