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Verona radicchio is a moderately sized, compact head, averaging 10 to 15 centimeters in length, and has a round to elongated, oval appearance depending on growing conditions. The dense head is made up of many layers of tightly packed, semi-thick leaves that are crisp, dark red-purple, and smooth. There are also prominent mid-ribs spreading through the center of the leaves that are white, firm, chewy, and aqueous. Verona radicchio has a crunchy texture with a tangy, vegetal, and semi-bitter flavor.
Verona radicchio is available in the fall through early spring.
Verona radicchio, botanically classified as Cichorium intybus, is an Italian variety that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The heirloom cultivar is also known in Italy as Rossa di Verona, roughly translating to mean “Verona red,” which is a descriptor of the variety’s unique hue and place of origin. Verona radicchio is a type of chicory that is known for its bitter flavor, crunchy texture, and dark red coloring. The variety is widely incorporated into traditional Italian cuisine and is used in both fresh and cooked applications. Outside of Italy, Verona radicchio is a specialty cultivar that is used by chefs to add unusual coloring and flavoring to salads, pasta, and rice dishes.
Verona radicchio is a good source of vitamin K, which is beneficial in helping the blood form clots for wound protection and contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can boost the immune system. The leaves also provide some minerals, including manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.
Verona radicchio is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, roasting, grilling, braising, and sautéing. The bitter leaves can add flavor and complexity to fresh green salads, or they can be thinly sliced and mixed into coleslaws for texture, a sharp taste, and color. Verona radicchio is also popularly grilled and served with balsamic vinegar as a smoky, tangy side dish, tossed into soups and stews, or stir-fried and served with roasted meats. In Italy, Verona radicchio is a staple ingredient used in everyday recipes, especially in Verona, and is incorporated into appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The red leaves are commonly cooked into pasta such as ravioli and cannelloni, mixed into risotto, lasagna, and casseroles, roasted as a pizza topping, or braised with meats and winter vegetables. Verona radicchio is also baked into torta di radicchio, which is a light cake that can be served as a dessert or with afternoon tea. Verona radicchio pairs well with red wine, honey, meats such as sausage, pancetta, pork, and poultry, seafood, chickpeas, polenta, mushrooms, cheeses such as gorgonzola, goat, and blue, pears, figs, white chocolate, and nuts such as pine, walnut, and hazelnut. The fresh heads will keep up to one week when wrapped in a paper towel and stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In the region of Veneto, Italy, Verona radicchio is labeled as an IGP variety, which is a seal that is also known as an Indication of Geographic Protection. This label attributes the flavor and appearance of the variety, specifically to the soil, climate, and growing conditions of the region of Veneto. IGP labels were established in Europe in the mid-1900s as a way to protect unique varieties from being produced in other areas of the world and marketed under the Italian name. The name Verona radicchio is used for radicchio only grown within fifty-six towns found in the Veneto region. In addition to Verona radicchio, other notable radicchio varieties are protected with an IGP label in the Veneto region with varying appearances, flavors, and cultivation areas. These varieties include chioggia red radicchio, castelfranco radicchio, and treviso red radicchio.
Verona radicchio is native to northern Italy and is grown within fifty-six towns, including Verona, in the region of Veneto. Radicchio varieties were introduced to north Italy in the 15th century and were extensively cultivated for their unusual flavor and red-green leaves. It was believed that Verona radicchio was developed sometime in the early 20th century, and today the variety can be found at local Italian markets. Verona radicchio is also exported to other regions of Europe and the United States.
Recipes that include Verona Radicchio. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Gard A Concierge||Radicchio Risotto from Verona|