January is the last harvest month of radicchio from Treviso

And, many locals say the best comes last. From my vantage point here in Treviso, Veneto (just twenty minutes north of Venice) we’re certainly hitting the early January crescendo. Radicchio Trevigiano really starts making itself known in a big way in November. The local markets and stores have big displays. There’s even a weekend in Treviso where local growers/producers set up in the main piazza and proudly offer their lots. The crowds of devotees are plentiful.

I was an easy convert.

Before living in Treviso, radicchio was a vegetable that I liked, not loved. I appreciated it as part of a “mix”—in a salad or with a medley of grilled vegetables. For the latter, I’d add a little balsamic to sweeten the bitterness, and all was good. Then, when I started seeing this odd-shaped radicchio Trevigiano, I asked, “What’s the big deal?” The answer I got often was the Italian finger-in-the-cheek which means something is delicious,  and a “Che buono!” The first time I had it, our next-door neighbors grilled it on the stovetop with just a bit of oil. It was tender and tasty with only a hint of bitterness. I fell in love immediately and starting buying it and cooking it for ourselves. Check out growing and preparation ideas on the wonderful blog, Giallo Zaffreno.

Then, came the variations…

During the harvest of this unique radicchio from Treviso, local restaurants feature it in a multitude of ways: fried, wrapped with prosciutto and cheese and baked, in risotto with a cabernet sauce, and much more. Then at our local downtown watering hole, I Nanetti, I discovered a radicchio Trevigiano flavored grappa. If you’re like me and you love grappa as a digestivo, you’ll want to try it.

Then came the biggest surprise of all: panettone, the revered “cake” of Italian holidays, made using radicchio. In the example above, I believe they’ve used the garden-variety radicchio, but I’m confident the enthusiasm for the hallowed place of radicchio in the local culture was the impetus. This panettone isn’t inexpensive, mind you. We found it at a local gourmet store for around twenty euros. We gifted it a couple to good friends and it was a bit hit.

If you ever see this radicchio varietal in your local market, I urge you to give it a try. Or, if you’re in the Veneto during the months of November, December, and January, be sure to treat yourself to one of the many featured presentations on the local menus.