Red chicory, or radicchio in Italian, is one of the many vegetables available in Autumn and Winter: it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamins (A, B1 and B2), full of fibers, low in calories, and absolutely delicious. Could we ask for more?
The area around Treviso, in the northern region of Veneto, is home to three different kinds of red chicory that are identified by the European Union as “Protected Geographical Indication” varieties. This means that the specific territory and the production process that are needed for these kinds of red chicory are unique and cannot be replicated anywhere else. For this recipe, we would suggest to use the radicchio precoce (literally “the early one”), which has wider leaves and a more intense bitter taste; this radicchio is ready to be sold to consumers only after having grown for 15 to 20 days with the leaves tied up with a string, so that the inside of the chicory plant is hidden from the sun.
The healty, light rolls we propose to you today are perfect to enjoy as an appetizer, or – why not – even as a side, paired with some griddled chicken breast.
Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins
- Red chicory, whole: about 250 g
- Gorgonzola: 100 g
- Walnuts: 70 g
- Ham: 10 slices
- Extra virgin olive oil: to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Rinse the chicory and pick the nicest 10 outer leaves.
Heat up some water in a pot, then blanch the chicory leaves one by one, keeping them in the water not more than 15 seconds each. It’s important not to overcook the chicory, because it will also bake in the oven later on in the recipe. Carefully dry the chicory leaves with a kitchen cloth.
Use the prongs of a fork to gently break the gorgonzola in smaller pieces, then roughly chop the walnuts; combine the two ingredients in a bowl.
Lay down the chicory leaves on a work surface. Place a slice of ham on each leaf, then add some spoonfuls of the walnuts and gorgonzola mixture. Roll up the leaf and use a toothpick to keep it closed.
Place the rolls on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle some oil on top and bake them at 180°C for about 10 minutes.
Tip: If your chicory has less wide, more elongated leaves, worry not: your rolls will be smaller, but you can make more of them!