This is one of my favorite salads. It’s pretty to look at, crunchy and has a sweet-sour-bitter thing going on that I really enjoy. Radicchio, which looks like a little head of red cabbage, and Belgian endive, which is a pale white-yellow thing that looks like a spear point, are both chicories, which means they are ever-so-slightly bitter. The fennel, shaved thin, balances that with its anise sweetness. A mustard-based vinaigrette rounds the whole thing out. It is a bracing accompaniment to rich meats and stews.
I first had a version of this salad at an Italian restaurant called La Grotta in Richmond, Virginia. The chef there served this salad with thickly shaved pieces of parmesan cheese, but I prefer the cheese grated through a coarse grater, which allows the cheese to integrate better with the rest of the salad.
While radicchio and endive may sound like esoteric vegetables, I’ve seen them in supermarkets all over the country; they will usually be around where the market keeps its fresh herbs.
If you have leftover salad, this will keep, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days.
While I provide a salad dressing for this recipe that works really well, you can use any high-quality Italian dressing here.
- 1 head radicchio
- 2-3 Belgian endives
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
- 3 Tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard
- 2-3 teaspoons shallot or onion, minced
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
1 Slice the head of radicchio in half, then in quarters. Take each quarter and cut slices of about 1/2 inch thick crosswise on the radicchio from the end toward the core. Discard the cores. Cut the Belgian endives into 1/2-inch thick slices, also discarding the hard inner cores. Cut the stems and fronds off the fennel and set aside. Slice the fennel bulb in half and then in quarters. Cut thin slices from each quarter toward the core. Cut out and discard the core. Toss all the cut vegetables in a large bowl with the grated parmesan.
2 To make the vinaigrette, chop the fennel fronds you cut off the bulb and put 3 tablespoons worth into the bowl of a blender. Add the mustard, shallot or onion, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the blender bowl and put the lid back on without the center stopper. Cover the stopper with your hand as you start the blender again. Drizzle in the olive oil and puree the dressing for 30-45 seconds. Pour over the vegetables and toss to combine.