Care of Ashley Sauve

Radicchio is an often over-looked vegetable, resembling a small cabbage with deep, wine-coloured leaves. However, radicchio is not related to cabbage, but rather is a member of the chicory family.

It is most commonly found in lettuce mixes to round out the salad with a sharp, bitter flavour. This bitter flavour is reduced when is it cooked, making radicchio an excellent side dish when grilled or sautéed.

Radicchio is an excellent source of the wonderful vitamin K. Vitamin K is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease as it protects the brain from damage. Also included in the gorgeous red leaves are moderate amounts of vitamins B2 & B3, potassium, copper, iron, manganese and zinc.

Historically, radicchio has been used as a painkiller and a sedative (particularly to treat insomnia). These properties are thanks to the bitter substance Lactucin found in the leaves of the plant. Because of this Lactucin, radicchio is also known to have antimalarial properties. Pretty impressive for this humble salad green!

Radicchio is classified as a ‘bitter’ vegetable, which means that it provides amazing medicinal value. Bitters can be used to increase the appetite and to aid digestion by stimulating secretion of digestive juices, making it an excellent treatment for those suffering food allergies or autoimmune conditions that decrease effective digestion.

Like all bitters, it is often used as a treatment for acid reflux and acts as a blood purifier.  Protect your health this month by welcoming radicchio onto your plate in salads, slaws, and even soups. Or better yet, give the valuable veggie a staring role in a side  dish by roasting or grilling! It will be sure to add colour and class to your plate.