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Taking the Bite Out of Radicchio

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2011

The deep red color of radicchio adds much to a salad, but sometimes it tastes too bitter. Is there any way to tame it?

Radicchio owes its characteristically bitter edge to naturally occurring chemical compounds released when the vegetable is cut or chewed. However, because these bitter compounds are water soluble, you can tone down the bitterness by soaking the cut leaves in water. After testing at various time intervals, we found that a soak of at least 30 minutes was necessary to tame the vegetable’s bite. To tone it down even more, we cut the radicchio into fine shreds before soaking, as the greater amount of exposed surface area allows more of the bitter compounds to leach out.

That said, we like the sharpness of this lettuce and will stick to giving it just a quick rinse to preserve its bite before incorporating it into recipes. We find that radicchio’s bitterness helps balance flavors, particularly in salads that contain rich ingredients, such as cheese or nuts, or sweet components like fruit.

ASSERTIVE

EASIER GOING

Finely cutting radicchio and then soaking it in water tames some of its bite.