According to registered dietitian May Zhu, R.D., radicchio is technically classified under the chicory vegetable category. Even if you’ve never consumed radicchio before, chances are you’ve definitely seen it at your local grocery store or farmers market. In fact, this leafy green is often mistaken for red cabbage, thanks to its purplish-red exterior. “Depending on the variation, the color can vary from deep purple to maroon or red,” Zhu says.
Plus, you’ll see white-ish, green ribbed lines throughout the leaves—that’s one of the major ways to differentiate cabbage and radicchio. It’s similar to a mild lettuce, kind of like a bibb or gem variety.
As for taste, well, it can be quite bitter. “It’s much heartier in texture than lettuce or romaine and the taste can be bitter and earthy,” Zhu notes. That’s where the proper cooking methods come into play: When radicchio is cooked or marinated, it can help mellow out that bitter taste.