Philacatessen | Treviso, Winter’s Flower

fresh red chicory called RADICCHIO TARDIVO in Italian language for sale in the greengrocer stall at the local market
ChiccoDodiFC / iStock / Getty Images Plus

While at the farmers market last week, a gorgeous exotic burgundy-and-white flower caught my eye in one of the produce stalls. It had spiky “petals” that looked tropical and vaguely marine. The sign said “Treviso/Winter’s Flower,” and I was intrigued.

I asked the farmer about it, and he informed me that treviso is a member of the radicchio family and has a sharp, slightly bitter taste. It can be served cooked or raw, and a little goes a long way. That’s good news since the rarified leaves were a whopping $18.99 a pound — but I had to try them so I bought two small heads.

The farmer advised me that he really liked to use treviso on dishes at the tail end of the cooking process sort of as a garnish — sprinkling it, chopped, on pizza or pasta, or even roasted meat or fish. I used it to top my version of Marc Vetri’s venison pear ragu and it added a pleasant crunch of bitter, which offered a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the pears.

If you are not inclined to make venison ragu, the treviso would complement this super-simple ravioli or this luxurious brown butter gnocchi.

Since I bought two small heads of treviso, I used the second one in a salad. Because it delivers a piquant, pleasantly sharp flavor avoid adding it to lettuces that have a bitter overtone, like arugula or escarole. Instead, pair it with milder leaf, such as butter lettuce or romaine.

Treviso Salad

Serves two

  • 1 head butter lettuce, rinsed, drained, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ apple, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 1 head treviso, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Place the lettuce, apple, pecans, treviso and goat cheese in a salad bowl.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil and vinegar.

Toss well and serve immediately.


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