SUGARLOAF (Chicorium intybus), also known as Pain de Sucre, is a fine European heirloom that is ignored by Americans to their great loss. Grow in the front of your decorative border, but matures in the late fall-winter. The tightly packed heads resemble romaine lettuce and can be grown through the cold months (with protection). To seal the sale -- it is a cut and come again veggie! A natural for all manner of winter comfort dishes, it goes particularly well with pork, but vegans can delight because it also marries well with winter squashes and herbs. The flavor is very pleasant and sweet with a tang of bitter - it is the mildest type of radicchio you can grow. Traditionally sauteed in Italy in a variety of dishes but I love it in salads or as a bed for grilled meats. 90-100 days. 50 seeds.
NUTRITIONAL INFO: Radicchio is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (higher than spinach and blueberries). It lowers the glycemic index so it is an especially good choice for diabetics. It is an especially rich source of Vitamin K, putting it in the column of nutritious liver tonics. Ancient physicians believed that every diet should be balanced with a little bitter. If you do not like the taste of radicchio raw, try it sauteed with a little olive oil, shiitake mushroom (also very healthy) and spring onion.
GROWING TIPS: Like all radicchio/chicory, sugarloaf grows best during the cool months so sow in July and transplant to a protected environment (under all-weather drapes, or a cold-frame or glasshouse). You can begin harvesting in the fall and continue through to spring. Always leave a 1" stump from which the new head will grow.