In the heart of the Veneto Region, a consortium of farmers dedicates passion and commitment to the cultivation of two exquisite varieties of PGI Radicchio: the Early and Late Red Radicchio from Treviso and the Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco. These vegetables, with their unique and distinctive flavors, were among the first products in Italy to receive the prestigious PGI recognition, emphasizing their geographical origin and outstanding quality.
The production area of these radicchio varieties is a key factor in their exceptional quality. The region where they are cultivated is characterized by a special geological formation and the presence of minerals that impart a distinctive flavor to them. Furthermore, the abundance of watercourses contributes to creating a unique environment that fosters the growth of both radicchio types. It is for this very reason that the designation "from Treviso" and "from Castelfranco" can only be used when the product is certified with the PGI label, ensuring its authenticity and origin.
PGI Radicchio varieties: characteristics and culinary uses
Let's explore the differences and culinary uses of the two PGI Radicchio varieties: Early and Late Red Radicchio from Treviso and Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco.
PGI Red Radicchio from Treviso: difference between Early and Late varieties
To be classified as PGI Late Red Radicchio from Treviso, this exquisite vegetable must originate from a specific area located within the provinces of Treviso, Padua, and Venice, following the traditional forcing and blanching process. After harvesting, which begins around October 20th, the bunches of radicchio are immersed in tanks filled with flowing spring water. About fifteen days later, when new shoots emerge, the curing, washing, and packaging phase begins.
Its distinctive shape is that of a lanceolate head, with uniform shoots and compactness at the top. The leaf blade boasts an intense red color with a white central vein. The unique flavor is characterized by a pleasant bitterness and a crisp texture. Its production entails weeks of meticulous manual labor, but the result is a true culinary treasure.
In contrast, PGI Early Red Radicchio from Treviso is notably larger and requires less manual labor compared to the late variety. Harvesting begins on September 1st, and unlike the late variety, its maturation occurs in open fields after the leaves have been bound with elastic bands and kept closed, devoid of light, for 15-20 days. In terms of flavor, the leaves have a subtle bitter aftertaste and a moderately crisp texture.
The distinctive feature is the pronounced main vein of the leaves, which is white and branches into numerous small veins in the broad and intense red leaf blade. The head of this variety is voluminous, elongated, and well compact, with a moderately sized root.
PGI Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco
Due to its exquisite shape, PGI Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco is also known as the "edible flower" or "edible rose." The distinctive feature of this variety lies in its broad leaves with slightly pronounced veins, a serrated edge, and a slightly undulating leaf blade. The beauty of its forms and the vibrant colors of its leaves, ranging from creamy-white to shades of light purple and reddish-purple, make it truly unique.
The head is elegantly shaped, with a minimum diameter of 15 cm and a leaf arrangement that goes from flat at the base to more uplifted towards the top, creating a harmonious structure. The leaves are thick, with serrated edges and a slightly undulating surface, giving them a rounded shape. The flavor of variegated radicchio ranges from sweet to pleasantly bitter and is notably fresh and delicate.
This radicchio is particularly rich in essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, in addition to containing a high percentage of vitamins A, B2, C, and PP. Its origin dates back to a cross between Treviso radicchio and escarole, making its production a complex process that requires precision in timing and techniques. Harvesting begins on October 1st, followed by blanching processes that impart to the radicchio its distinctive flavor, crispness, colors, and shape that make it so special.
Gastronomic preparations and recipes
These vegetables, in each of their varieties, not only bring a unique flavor to the table but also represent a special connection to the land and agricultural tradition of the region. The tasting translates into a culinary experience that goes beyond the palate, constituting an authentic journey into the heart of the roots of Venetian agricultural culture.
Thanks to its versatility and extraordinary combination of colors, radicchio can be used in both traditional recipes and the creations of top chefs. Appetizers, first courses, salads, mains, and desserts: this vegetable is included as a special ingredient to craft imaginative and visually appealing recipes that carry a taste of tradition.
The Commitment of the Consortium for the Protection of PGI Early and Late Red Radicchio from Treviso and PGI Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco
The Consortium was established in 1996 with the primary goal of carefully overseeing the production and promotion of these two radicchio varieties while ensuring compliance with the stringent standards set by the PGI production regulations. Currently, the consortium boasts 150 registered members who work on a total land area of approximately 550 hectares in the provinces of Treviso, Venice, and Padua. These farmers dedicate their time and expertise to cultivate radicchio using traditional production techniques, thereby preserving the authentic quality and organoleptic characteristics of these exquisite vegetables.
In recent years, the Consortium for the Protection of PGI Early and Late Red Radicchio from Treviso and PGI Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco has undertaken numerous activities to promote these varieties and preserve their authenticity. These initiatives include training programs in culinary schools, participation in fairs and conferences, promotion through the media, and the organization of local events dedicated to PGI products. These efforts aim to spread awareness of these delightful vegetables and ensure that consumers can appreciate their unmatched quality.
This content was created in collaboration with the Consortium for the Protection of PGI Early and Late Red Radicchio from Treviso and PGI Variegated Radicchio from Castelfranco.
President: Andrea Tosatto
Headquarters: Piazza G. Falcone e P. Borsellino 6 – 31059 Zero Branco (TV)
Phone: +39 0422 486073