Here in the Veneto region of Italy’s northeast, where Prosecco — fast becoming the world’s preferred sparkling wine — hails, comes another joy that springs forth from the earth to la tavola: radicchio rosso (red chicory).

What's Burning: Crespelle con Radicchio e Morlacco | ©Tom Palladio ImagesA winter vegetable, its leaves range from deep red to crimson with a well-defined midriff of snow white. Radicchio rosso, with its signature bitter taste, comes in several different varieties with each distinct to their growing zones: Treviso, Verona and Chioggia.

Whether in pinzimonio — dipped in a vinaigrette and eaten fresh — added to a risotto, or rolled inside a crespella (crepe) covered in besciamella (white sauce) and cheese then baked in the oven, radicchio rosso is a great friend to have at the ready in the kitchen during wintertime around these here parts of the Bel Paese.

What's Burning: Crespelle con Radicchio e Morlacco | ©Tom Palladio ImagesNow, I’ve got radicchio rosso in the ice-a-box, but lack the culinary acumen to pull off this delicious first-course dish in my galley; so, I take the easy way out and head down to il Ceppo, my fave gastronomy shop along Corso Palladio in Vicenza, where I pick up and carry home a healthy portion of Crespelle con Radicchio e Morlacco del Grappa.

I just pop the aluminum tray in the oven, pre-heated to 185 C, and wait until the crepes brown slightly and the white sauce and morlacco cheese merge and begin to ooze out.

Plated, I’m pairing the dish with another local favorite, Il Brolo from Società Agricola Colle di Bugano in nearby Longare. A Tai Rosso (f.n.a. Tocai) varietal grown in the Colli Berici (Berici Hills) that surround Vicenza, it’s ruby-red in color, intense and has pronounced notes of strawberry and cherry. Dry and harmonious, Il Brolo is slightly tannic with a pleasant bitter note at the finish.

BUON APPETITO!

©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images

TPT Borsalino 2014 Color |©Tom Palladio Images

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him in and out of 49 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway somewhere in the Veneto. You can also follow his dispatches from the cobblestone at TravelingBoy.com and ItalianNotebook.com.

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