When the weather gets cold, the radicchio turns red. Radicchio is Italian for a large group of chicories, both red and green, most of which are named after towns in the Veneto region of northern Italy. They can have an almost fleshy consistency, and are fairly bitter. In this country, the most common is the ball-shaped Rossa da Verona, and is usually seen raw in salads or as a trendy garnish, but in Italy, the most commonly eaten variety is the elongated Tresviso, and it is always cooked.
Both of these are forced-growth, meaning that after the first heading is removed, the root and all are moved to a dark shed to be forced, just like Belgian endive. There are also field-grown varieties which are the ones I grow, usually Chioggia and Castelfranco. Seeds for almost twenty varieties, including all these mentioned here, can be found at Seeds of Italy (http://www.growitalian.com/search.php?search_query=radicchio&x=0&y=0).
Several farmers at the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market grow Treviso, and you can often find it at The Town & Country Market on Bainbridge or at Whole Foods in Seattle. But the little round red one will work just fine for this risotto.
2 T olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 head radicchio, 1/4 inch slices
1 cup risotto rice (Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli)
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups broth, low boil
1/3 cup parmesan
1 T butter
Heat olive oil over medium – medium high heat in a saucepan.
Add shallot, stir/cook until softened, add radicchio, stir to coat.
Add rice, stir to coat and let it “toast” for 2 minutes. Add red wine, stir to evaporate the alcohol.
Add one ladle of broth, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until almost dry, then add another ladle. Continue adding full ladles when dry for about 20 minutes, then start using half ladles until rice grains are swollen but still al dente. Remove from heat.
Add butter and cheese, mix and serve.