Envision your next summer barbecue and you’ll probably picture a grill sizzling with burgers, chicken, and perhaps a juicy rib-eye. Likely the last thing to come to mind on those grates is what appears to be a purple head of lettuce.
But sometimes the most unexpected things thrown on a grill turn out to be the best. Enter radicchio, our purple-headed friend. Though radicchio (say, “rad-dee-kyoh”) might appear to be the offspring of a head of romaine lettuce and a cabbage, it tastes like neither. Radicchio is actually part of the chicory family, and its leaves are known for their bitterness. Radicchio is found in the fresh produce section in larger markets, and you might just mistake it for the aforementioned cabbage. If you don’t see it in your regular mainstream store, try an ethnic one. I get mine at H Mart, an Asian grocer, for about a dollar per head.
While radicchio leaves can be eaten raw, they may leave too much of the proverbial – and literal – bitter taste in your mouth. Best to use them sparingly and mixed with tamer greens.