Radicchio is a bitter-tasting and leafy vegetable that originates from Italy. Some popular varieties like the radicchio di Treviso look like a red version of Belgium endive.
It is sometimes called Italian chicory because it is commonly used in Italian cuisines. These plants are not green because they’re usually planted in dark sheds in the absence of sun and water, making them lose their green color.
The bitter and spicy taste of radicchio is mellowed when grilled or roasted. But what happens if you don’t have radicchio and still wish for something similar?
You can use other good substitutes for radicchio such as endive, arugula, chicory, free, curly endive, watercress, romaine lettuce, free, and reddish in cuisines that require radicchio, and you will still enjoy a similar result.
Now, let’s learn more about radicchio and some of the other things you can use to replace it in your dishes!
Table of Contents
- What is Radicchio?
- Best Substitutes for Radicchio
- 1. Endive
- 2. Romaine lettuce
- 3. Curly endive
- 4. Arugula
- 5. Chicory
- 6. Watercress
- 7. Treviso
- 8. Free
- 9. Radish
- How Do I Cook Radicchio?
- What is The Difference Between Radicchio and Red Cabbage?
- Are Radicchio and Endive the Same Thing?
- 1. Belgian endive
- 2. Curly endive
- 3. Broad leaf endive
What is Radicchio?
Radicchio is a chicory family member, a group of leafy vegetables known for their spicy bitterness. When eaten raw, its veins are white with purple leaves.
It is mainly cooked by boiling, roasting, or sautéing to bring a very sharp sweetness.
Best Substitutes for Radicchio
There are a lot of substitutes for radicchio, which are going to be listed below. All the veggies that we’re going to be mentioning will adjust well in recipes that require radicchio.
This is a very delicate vegetable with a unique milky appearance and a bitter taste. It originated from France and is used in many French recipes.
This is the first vegetable that we encourage you to try because it works well in salads and has green colors.
Not only for radicchio, but you can also use endives for many other things. It can also be consumed raw, grilled, baked, or even added to other foods to create that bitter-sweet taste.
When raw, it has a crisp and crunchy taste, but it becomes mellow with a soft structure after it is cooked.
2. Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce is another great substitute for radicchio. You can use it in salads, and its taste is unique compared to the other veggies on this list.
It shares similar textures and preferences with radicchio, which are on point for sandwiches, but romaine lettuce are best in salads.
3. Curly endive
This radicchio substitute has curly leaves and green color, unlike the radicchio. It is usually added to salads to add a pleasant but bitter taste, but when it is cooked, the texture and taste mellow down.
Keep in mind that this leaf is purely green with no traces of other colors.
This is one of the perfect radicchio substitutes in lots of recipes. This plant has a leafy appearance with a tart, peppery, and fresh yet bitter taste.
It is usually added as toppings on pizzas to add extra flavor.
When baked, the taste varies, making it a delicious seasoning spice. It can be served with different fishes and salads, basically anything that requires radicchio.
You can eat the leaves of this plant, like celery, while the roots should be boiled before consumption. It is added to meals as an extra spice to add flavor and aroma to your cooking.
The leaves may appear more challenging than radicchio, but you can also add them to salads.
Watercress is an aquatic plant that is majorly found in Asia and Europe. It can be eaten raw or cooked the same way radicchio is added.
Treviso is another leafy vegetable that acts as a fantastic substitute for radicchios. It is harvested early, stays tightly closed, and later opens and unfolds its leaves.
It has a crunchy and mild texture, with minor traces of sweetness. It can either be eaten raw or cooked depending on the dish you prepare.
Free is one of the many excellent radicchio substitutes and it has short and curly leaves and a bitter taste. You can cook them in different ways depending on what you will use them.
It is mainly eaten raw and can be added to many salads or toppings in sandwiches.
It is a light green leaf with yellow endings and is also very crunchy and versatile in the sense that you can use it in place of radicchios in many recipes.
Even if this is not the best offer, it can also suit an alternative for radicchio.
How Do I Cook Radicchio?
An excellent way to enjoy your radicchio is to eat it raw in salads.
Radicchio’s bitterness is quite strong and is preferably eaten with a solid and acidic taste like balsamic vinegar because salty ingredients help reduce its bitterness.
Fatty ingredients like bacon and olive oil can also work well.
In making a sauteed radicchio, all you’ll be needing is one radicchio head, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ tsp of acceptable sea salt, and sea salt flakes (to taste).
- Get your radicchio and trim or discard a brown part of the stem that is not edible, and if the outer part also looks a bit sore, you can also discard that part and cut your radicchio head into quarters.
- After cutting into quarters, remove the cores from each of these quarters.
- You can now cut the quarters into smaller bits and also consider leaving some large pieces out.
- Get your frying pan, heat it over medium or high heat, then add your oil and swirl it to the bottom.
- You can now add your radicchio when your oil gets a bit hot and sprinkle salt on it while you stir to coat all parts of the leaves with oil.
- Cook while stirring frequently, so it does not burn. In about 8 minutes, the radicchios would have started tendering.
- When ready, transfer your radicchio to a serving platter and sprinkle some more salt but ensure that you don’t spread too much. It can be served either hot or warm. Enjoy!!!
What is The Difference Between Radicchio and Red Cabbage?
Red cabbage and radicchio may look like each other, but the difference is in the flavor. Radicchio is a leafy member of the chicory family, and although it seems a lot like red cabbage, its leaves are thinner and more tender, while the leaves of radicchio are firm and have a wavy texture.
Both these vegetables have their places in the kitchen but note that one cannot be used in place of the other.
Red cabbage is best used in pork and portions of beef after it must’ve been slow-cooked while tastes wonderfully in raw salads.
Are Radicchio and Endive the Same Thing?
Radicchio is a part of the chicory family, and the endive is the term used to refer to the leafy part of any vegetable in the chicory family.
Therefore, it is not correct to refer to radicchio as endive. There are three significant endives; Belgian, curly, and broad-leafed endives.
1. Belgian endive
this endive is usually referred to as a small and cylindrical head of lettuce with pale yellow leaves with curly edges.
It is moderately bitter and grows below the soil as dark mushrooms to keep it pale and preserve its delicate flavor. It can be used in salads, baked, or braised as a side dish.
2. Curly endive
It is sometimes known as frisee or simple chicory with a bushy head of curly green leaves. It is slightly bitter and has an intense flavor that is deeper than other vegetables with deeper shades of green.
You can also add it to salads to add texture and flavor.
In the UK, it is referred to as just “endive,” which can lead to some confusion, so be specific with the name when shopping for a particular type of endive.
3. Broad leaf endive
It is sometimes referred to as escarole and belongs to the same species as the curly endive.
It is less bitter than the two above and can also be used in salads and can also be used chopped in soups and cooked dishes.