Radicchio Palla Rossa grows like a lettuce, but has a firm dark red heart similar to a cabbage! It has a unique Bitter/ tangy Taste and can be harvested from Summer through to Autumn. Serve on Salads, grill on a Barbeque, roast, boil or fry!
Radicchio or Cichorium intybus, is a member of the Asteraceae family and a subspecies of Chicory. Radicchio dates back to the sixteenth century and has origins in the Veneto region of northern Italy in the town of Chioggia. The word ‘Radicchio’ is usually applied to various types of ‘bitter leaves’ and often attached to a vegetable that is red or green in colour.
Radicchios did not always have those vibrant red leaves. The Red Radicchio of today was developed by a Belgian agronomist named Franco Van den Borre in 1860.
Van den Borre used a technique of whitening and pre-forcing to create the red, white veined leaves. This was done by placing the plants in water or sand in a dark cold cellar, the lack of light inhibited Chlorophyll production which in turn caused the plants to lose most of their Green Colour!
Radicchio ‘Palla Rossa’ Summary
The ‘Palla Rossa’ variety is from Chioggia in Italy, Palla meaning ‘Ball’ and Rossa meaning ‘Red’ in Italian.
The Palla Rossa Radicchio is a very reliable and a very easy crop to grow, they are consistent in their growth, forming nice round loose heads in the Summer right up to the Cooler months. They are fuss free Vegetables, happy to grow in the ground, raised beds and even pots.
*Fun Fact- The dark red colour of the Radicchio intensifies as the days begin to shorten and your plants are exposed to cold.
Health Benefits of Radicchio
All Varieties of Radicchio are good for you! These healthy vegetables contain Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Sodium, Potassium… a truck load of the good stuff! Fabulous for the waistline too, boasting just 14 Calories per 100g!
That all sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But let’s get a little more detailed! What is Radicchio good for?…
- Anaemia– Radicchio is the perfect vegetable for anyone suffering from Anaemia as it is able to make “improvements” to organisms with vitamin or iron deficiencies, due to being rich in vitamins A, B and K.
- Type II Diabetes-Radicchio also helps with those suffering from type II Diabetes, as it contains inulin, which regulates blood sugar, and fibre.
- The Immune System– Radicchio can help to strengthen your body’s immune defenses thanks to the rich content of vitamin C.
- Strong bones-Radicchio contains a large amount of vitamin K, which regulates and promotes the calcium accumulation within your body which in turn supports strong healthy bones!
- Heart Health-Radicchio contain heart friendly compounds that may lower your risk of heart disease.
How To Grow Radicchio Palla Rossa
Radicchio seeds can be sown from early spring to late Summer, for Summer/Autumn Harvests
How to Sow Radicchio ‘Palla Rossa’ seeds
- Around 1.5cm deep from April – August. (Germination 1-3 weeks)
- Sow 1 to 2 seeds every 10cm in rows 30 cm apart.
- Once established, thin plants to at least 20 cm between plants
- In modules or pots, 1 cm deep, on a sunny Windowsill or in a Greenhouse as early as March (7-14 days until germination)
- *If sowing Indoors, plant out young plants once the risk of frost has passed (around May for me, north west uk) be sure to harden off your plants first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Where to Plant Radicchio Palla Rossa
Radicchio plants mature quickly, to help them along, provide them with a rich well-drained soil in a Full Sun Position. Give them a fair amount of room, they have a spread of around 30 cm.
Water frequently, especially during dry spells. More so with pot grown Radicchio, provide lots of drainage.
When To Harvest Radicchio Palla Rossa
Radicchio take 75-80 days to reach maturity. Harvest : September – December for hearts. Harvest the leaves anytime.
Ways to Eat Radicchio
Radicchio is a versatile Vegetable, you can eat it raw in salads or cooked. Its bitter taste goes very well with sweet accompaniments such as Apples and Pears, I like to chop up fruits and toss them in with my salad..delicious! Here are some other ideas…
- Shred and fry in Butter,
- Slice, drizzle with olive oil ands sea salt and bake
- Add shredded Radicchio to Coleslaw
- Add to Stews
- Chop and stir into Pasta Bakes for a tangy bite
Other Radicchio Varieties you could Try
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