The red Grumolo is a nice looking and tasting small Radicchio. Radicchio is a perennial chicory – Cichorium intybus – and grows well during winter when it develops it’s best leaf form and colour. They are green for most of the year and require cold to get the intense red colour in the leaves with the white stalks and stems. The loose green leaves will often die back in early winter with the start of frosts and intense cold periods and the new growth that forms will then be tight and coloured correctly.
Do not expect good looking radicchio if you are growing them fast in spring/summer. Assume this crop is on a 12 month rotation and harvested in mid to late winter.
There is a full green only leaf form of the Grumolo cultivar available too. Grumolo tend to be squat and rounded with a fairly tight central leaf heart – but can grow up to about 30cm in diameter.
The taste can be quite bitter raw but they transform into something quite different like other chicory varieties with direct heat applied to them – especially in a pan or on a BBQ. Just slice them into halts or quarters and lay them out on a BBQ plate or grill and wait for them to caramelise. Very tasty… Or saute them with some onions and garlic and add a little butter.
The leaves are a nice colourful and spicy addition to salads with other blander leaves.
They are short lived (a few years) but they are perennial so if you slice the head off at ground level and leave the root – it will resprout and form another head. This is also how you get the traditional white blanched chicory heads. Athough this blanching process just seems a lot of extra unneeded work to me unless you have lots of shed or cellar space to do it. They are traditionally done in wooden trays of sand in the dark.
They take a while to flower but have beautiful 1 metre tall stalks with lurid cornflower like blue flowers. The seed takes some time to develop so leave them till they are almost dry before collecting the seed. It is fine and can be scattered around the ground for a good reliable harvest next year. I have them now growing in the grass areas surrounding the garden beds where they were originally planted – a bit like dandelions – they will grow like tasty weeds if given a chance.
I have also posted about it more generally here: