Instagram has fundamentally transformed the food world. It’s no longer enough for food to taste good, it has to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Though many of the most eye-catching eats on the platform have veered towards the decadent, you’ll find the latest food trend to pop off on the visual platform in the produce section instead of a pastry shop.
That’s right: pink ‘lettuce’ is here to add a splash of color to salads and social media feeds.
Technically, it’s a chicory known as Radicchio del Veneto, or La Rosa del Veneto. The colorful crop is native to Italy, but is being cultivated in certain parts of California, Pennsylvania, and Washington thanks to imported seeds. Planted in late November, Radicchio del Veneto and grows in mild winter climates until it’s harvested by March.
Naturally, the closest thing we have to a millennial pink vegetable has already made its way into high-end grocers like Whole Foods and Eataly (natch). It’s also popped up in dishes ranging from Caesar pizza to anchovy salad at high-end restaurants. “The cold, winter months bring little color to the kitchen so these pink and ruby leaves are a joy when they arrive,” Jess Shadbolt, co-head chef at Soho Italian spot King told Moneyish.
So how does it taste? Chis Field of Campo Rosso Farm in Pennsylvania says the radicchio has a “pretty mild and has a subtle bitterness to it.” Another variety that is partially planted in the fall, then uprooted and later regrown, is “more delicate leaves and is crispier and usually on the sweeter side.”
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Let’s not lie to ourselves, though: you’re puing Radicchio del Veneto for the clout rather than its culinary bonafides. “It’s definitely a variety that’s selected for how pretty it is,” Field said. “Some of the other varieties taste a lot better.” At least we now have a way to stay on-trend and eat healthier at the same time.