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La Rosa del Veneto Radicchio
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La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is a full, loose head made up of many layers of thin, pink leaves connected to a single, white base. The leaves are smooth, soft, crisp, and are primarily known for their unusual, light pink coloring. In the center of each leaf, a prominent mid-rib extends from the base of the head and spreads out into smaller veins across the leaf’s surface. The white mid-rib has a firm, crunchy, and aqueous consistency. La Rosa del Veneto radicchio, depending on cultivation methods, generally has a crisp, silky texture similar to butter lettuce and is known for its sweeter taste in comparison to other radicchio varieties. Along with its sweeter characteristics, the variety still maintains a sharp, subtle bitterness with light floral notes.
La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is available in the winter through spring.
La Rosa del Veneto, botanically classified as Cichorium intybus, is a variety of chicory that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The Italian cultivar is known by many names, including Pink chicory, Radicchio del Veneto, and Pink lettuce, and La Rosa del Veneto roughly translates to mean “the rose of Veneto,” which is a reference to the region from which the variety originates. La Rosa del Veneto radicchio has been cultivated for centuries in Italy, but in the last five years, it has received global recognition over social media for its bright pink hues. With the millennial generation being defined by the color known as “millennial pink,” a tone highly promoted across social media platforms, trendsetters in photography, clothing, and food are also adopting the trend to showcase items that are found within the popular shade. Beyond its coloring, La Rosa del Veneto is favored by chefs and consumers for its mild, bitter-sweet flavor, soft, delicate crunch, and versatility in both raw and cooked culinary preparations.
La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is an excellent source of vitamin K, which promotes bone health and is a good source of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to repair the body against damage inflicted by external environmental aggressors. The leaves also provide minerals such as copper, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron.
La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, sautéing, grilling, braising, steaming, and stir-frying. When raw, the light pink leaves are showcased in salads and grain bowls, or they can be utilized as an edible garnish. The leaves also have a sturdy texture, which allows them to be used as bite-sized lettuce cups on appetizer plates, or they can be blended into smoothies. In addition to fresh preparations, the flavor of La Rosa del Veneto radicchio will develop a unique sweet and tangy taste when cooked and is often served with roasted meats, pasta, and winter vegetables. The soft, crisp leaves can also be baked into casseroles, steamed and served as a side dish, or grilled for a smoky flavor. La Rosa del Veneto radicchio pairs well with cheeses such as ricotta, blue, and goat, shallots, garlic, blood oranges, pears, grapefruits, grapes, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios, lemon zest, fennel, and dates. The fresh heads will keep up to one week when wrapped in a paper towel and loosely stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In Seattle, Washington, La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is showcased during Chicory Week. This annual event was created in 2018 to bring awareness to the many different varieties of chicory and to inspire both consumers and chefs to cook with the bitter greens. The festival was designed after the Italian sagra, which are celebrations in Italy that highlight specific regional cuisine and produce. During the festival, there are chicory discussions, meetings for new breeding projects, educational lessons on chicory cultivation, and charity dinners. There is also an official party known as the Sagra di Radicchio that provides themed food, drinks, live entertainment, and showcases many different radicchio varieties through an edible raw bar that visitors can sample throughout the night.
La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is native to the Veneto region in northern Italy. While the exact date of origin is unknown, radicchio varieties have been cultivated in Veneto since the 15th century, and many cultivars have been created through natural crossings and new cultivation techniques. Today La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is primarily found through local markets in Italy and is grown on a smaller scale in southern France. The variety is also exported from Italy to other regions of Europe and into the United States. Outside of Europe, La Rosa del Veneto radicchio is cultivated through select specialty farmers and home gardeners in California, Washington, and Pennsylvania of the United States and Mexico.