Tardivo is the most elegant member of the Radicchio family. It has long, narrow, slightly curving leaves with the bitter flavor typical of all chicories.
However, Tardivo is not a separate radicchio variety. Tardivo is Radicchio di Treviso that’s been tweaked by the farmer using a production method called “forcing.”
Developed by Belgium agronomist Francesco Van Den Borre in the 1860s to blanch Belgium endive, forcing is a three-step process:
- 1) plant in spring
- 2) harvest in autumn
- 3) force in winter.
The farmer lets the plant grow in the field until the hard frost, digs the plant with the root out of the soil, trims the root to 4″-6″ long, ties the plants together in clusters of 15, submerges the root ends of the plant clusters in water, and then keeps the clusters in complete dark at 45-55°F for 2-3 weeks.
The tight clusters, cold temperature, and lack of light forces the plants to push out compact new growth—resulting in the lovely, narrow leaves that typify Tardivo.
Farmer Romeo Coleman of Coleman Family Farm in Carpinteria, CA, is harvesting his first Tardivo crop, and we’ve got to say, he nailed it. His foray into forcing is a rousing success!
Use Tardivo in dishes that feature the shape of its leaves, like a salad of mixed chicories with vinaigrette, hazelnuts, and Parmesan, or Tardivo and warm Cranberry bean salad.
Image and content contributed by Karen Beverlin, vice president of Specialty Sales at The Produce Hunter.
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Keep tabs on what’s growing with Farmer Romeo Coleman of Coleman Family Farms on his Instagram.