Although I never buy it, I love the look of radicchio - those thick, crisp, maroon leaves with raised white veins are so pretty! But we got a simply beautiful head of the stuff in our most recent Hearty Roots CSA share, the typical coloring of the outer leaves tinged all over with a surprising and lovely green.
Since I never buy radicchio, I'd never cooked with it, either. So I turned to the internet for inspiration, of course (how did we do anything before the internet???) I found several simple yet yummy-looking recipes for grilled radicchio. I liked the idea that grilling the veg over high heat has a way of transforming its decidedly bitter taste to something mellowier and vaguely nutty.
The rest was history. I quartered the radicchio (you want to include part of the core in each piece to prevent it from falling apart), tossed the pieces with a generous mixture of olive oil, fresh orange juice, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper (don't skimp!) and asked my husband, our resident grillmaster, to go fire things up.
You will need to watch the radicchio wedges closely as they can burn easily and turn them often. A little char is good, too much is BAD.
Although you could just drizzle some good quality balsamic vinegar over them once they're done and tuck in, I found the idea of a salad more appealing. Cut the wedges into chunks, drizzle with a simple balsamic vinaigrette (suggested recipe below or feel free to use your own), and shave some Parmesan cheese over the whole thing.
The flavor is divine! Although some bites were still on the bitter side, I found it surprisingly addictive (sort of similar to the way I feel about this divine salad of shaved brussels sprouts, raw kale, toasted almonds and Parmesan.) The combination of the salty cheese, the sweet balsamic and the nutty, slightly bitter greens is goooood.
I only had one head of radicchio but I've doubled the recipe below so you can feed four (or maybe five - depends how many people find it addictive...) with it. We ate ours with the scrumptious green beans with herby lemon aioli I posted recently and a delicious grilled shell steak.
Serves 4-5 as a side
For the salad:
* 2 heads of radicchio, quartered, so that each chunk has some of the core/stem holding it together (otherwise, you might need to put the leaves in a grill basket as they won't hold together)
* A big handful of fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried, stems removed
* A big handful of fresh parsley leaves, rinsed and dried, stems removed
* Several glugs of olive oil
* 1/2 cup orange juice (optional)
* Parmesan, Pecorino or Romano cheese to taste
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
* Roughly 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
* 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. Make the dressing. Put the salt, garlic, mustard, maple syrup or honey and balsamic vinegar into a food processor or blender and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until the dressing comes together. Or, you can also just whisk it all together with a fork if that is more your speed or you don't feel like washing a food processor (I know I never do...)
2. Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Coat quartered radicchio with olive oil and orange juice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper - make sure each piece is well-covered.
3. Grill the radicchio over high heat, uncovered. Watch closely and turn often to prevent them from charring too much. You want them cooked and lightly charred in spots but not totally blackened. Remove to a bowl, plate or cutting board.
4. Chop the radicchio quarters into bite-sized pieces and toss with the dressing. Garnish with shaved or grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Romano cheese (I urge you not to skimp on the cheese.) Serve hot or let cool down - it'd be good both ways.
You might also like:
- Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad With Toasted Almonds & Parmesan
- Wilted Russian Kale Salad With Balsamic Vinegar & Orange Zest
- Red Cabbage, Lime, Cilantro & Honey Slaw