Named after a town about 40 miles NW of Venice, towards Bassano, Variegato di Castelfranco is winter salad royalty and one of the most visually stunning “greens” we grow. Plants begin with an open habit of broad green leaves which eventually develop a central conical head that becomes denser and denser through the fall and into the winter. As the weather cools the leaves develop stunning burgundy flecking which is contrasted against the inner golden leaves that have been blanched by the exterior. Patterning and degree of flecking can vary from plant to plant and the outer edges of the leaves have an elegant serrated shape. Sometimes referred to as the “Tulip of Winter” in Italy, the dense heads are laboriously opened up into a beautiful floral shape. Castelfranco types offer some of the best fresh, raw eating of the entire radicchio family, with thin tender leaves and a very mild bitterness. Very cold-hardy, it is one of the very best choices for winter salad greens. 65 days from transplant. Photo and text courtesy of Uprising Seeds.
Gusto Italiano Project is a collaboration between Culinary Breeding Network, Uprising Seeds and northern Italian vegetable breeders at Smarties.bio. The project was born from a mutual love of radicchio and a desire to further establish it as an anchor of the fall and winter produce season here in North America, and specifically the Pacific Northwest. This special line of certified organic radicchio and regional specialty Brassica seeds was bred and grown in Italy by the incredible folks at Smarties.bio. Based in Chioggia, the heart of radicchio’s motherland, Smarties.bio exists at the crossroads of tradition and innovation by bringing years of modern breeding experience to classic, culturally significant vegetables of their region.
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