Grilled Radicchio Salad

Have you ever cooked with radicchio? Until recently I have only had it in salads. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, radicchio looks like a small head of red cabbage; you can usually find it in the produce section of your grocery store. It’s actually not a cabbage, but a chicory, and it has a just slightly bitter, crisp taste.

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Raw chopped radicchio you often find in those bagged salad mixes. But here’s the cool thing, radicchio is outstanding grilled. Something about the grilling on high heat transforms the bitterness and turns it even a little nutty. I didn’t believe it until I tried it. So good! Quarter the radicchio heads, coat them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, grill them until lightly charred all over. Chop them into salad sized pieces, toss them with dressing, and sprinkle on a little grated Parm or Pecorino and you’re there.

Do you have a favorite way of preparing radicchio? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Grilled Radicchio Salad Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of radicchio, quartered, so that each quarter has a bit of the stem end holding it together
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to coat radicchio
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Pecorino or parmesan cheese for garnish

Method

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1 Make the dressing. Put the salt, garlic, mustard 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.

2 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat.

3 Coat quartered radicchio with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

4 Grill the radicchio over high heat, uncovered. Keep an eye on them, as they blacken quickly. You want a little blackening, but not a cinder. When they’re done, move to a bowl and bring inside to chop.

5 Chop the radicchio quarters into bite-sized pieces and toss with the dressing and some black pepper.

Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.

Links:

Warm radicchio, pear, and manchego salad - from Bitchin' Camero
Porchetta and roast radicchio pizza from Figs, Bay & Wine
Pasta with roasted radicchio from Ward Street Bistro

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18 Comments

  1. Jessica

    I like the addition that radicchio gives to salad mixes, but if there’s too much the bitterness overpowers. But grilling! Never would have thought of it. I don’t have a grill, but I wonder if it was slightly pan fried the same, nutty effect takes place?

    No idea. I’m guessing that the smoke from a grill helps a lot with the flavor here, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be as good to pan fry it. ~Elise

  2. Giorgia

    I personally do not like radicchio (my father is a fan of grilled radicchio), but I find it very good with rice. A well known recipe is “risotto alla trevigiana” (sometimes spelled as trevisana). Originally from Treviso (North East Italy), you cook it as a normal risotto. Radicchio must be cut in small pieces.
    @ Jessica: you should not put radicchio in a pan, but a small electric grill will be fine (just put a plate under it to keep your kitchen table clean)

  3. nico

    Eheh, it’s very strange for an Italian reading about people that have never tried radicchio before. ;-)
    You use radicchio from Chioggia, but the best one is radicchio trevisano (from Treviso).
    My favourite dishes with radicchio are crepes with radicchio and Asiago (an Italian cheese) and risotto with radicchio trevisano and gorgonzola. Very simple recipes, but very tasty!

    By the way, I discovered this foodblog from a couple of weeks and it became one of my favourite! I appreciate people that transmit passion on their activities and have constancy for long run.

    Thanks for nice pictures and good quality recipes!

    Nico

    PS: sorry for my bad English! ;-)

  4. Erin

    I don’t have an outdoor grill, so tried using a grill pan over a gas stove, and even though I’m sure it’s nowhere near as good as a proper grill, still ended up with a pleasant salad unlike any raw radicchio salad I’ve had before. Thanks for the tip!

  5. HoldEurop

    Jessica, for radicchio we use a griddle pan, cut the radicchio heads into quarters or halve them if smaller, season with pepper, salt and garlic, then brush the leaves with olive oil, place in the hot pan and turn a couple of times to avoid burning it. It is ready in just a few minutes. Whenever possible, we use the more oblong variety Trevisana, with a stronger texture and subtler blend of sweet and bitter notes, and beautiful wine-red leaves. It accompanies well steaks, venison, sausage or may be added, chopped, to a risotto.
    Grilling on an open fire,as I believe is done traditionally in the Veneto region of Italy, gives even better results but needs some logistics, since Trevisana season is in wintertime. Thank you, Elise, for sharing this suggestion.

  6. Christine

    The best radicchio salad I have ever had included radicchio, crispy chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, red cabbage, and neck squash in a lemon cumin dressing. So good but I just can’t seem to get it as good as the restaurant!

  7. Renee

    What a good idea! I like to use radicchio occasionally, but my family doesn’t care for the bitterness. I can see how grilling it would really enhance the flavor.

    Broiling for a few minutes might be an option for people who don’t have grills.

  8. Sarah

    This sounds great. Radicchio is delicious braised, too–there’s a recipe in Molly Stevens’ braising book with radicchio, tuna, and garbanzos that I love.

  9. Janet Vandenabeele

    Could you roast the radicchio in the oven, like with brussel sprouts? Is there some reason why you can’t do a quick browning/sauteeing in a pan? Does it stay too bitter? (As you might have noticed, I don’t have a grill, or a broiler or any fancy grilling pan.)

    You could try it, let us know how it works out for you. ~Elise

  10. sofia

    Love, love, love, love grilled radicchio. So much better than raw. I also sear it in a cast iron if I am not turning on the grill and it is delicious. Cut into wedges. Coat it with olive oil and sprinkle salt on it. Cook until wilty. Deborah Madison has some good recipes for this (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone). Also in Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens there is an excellent recipe for a sautee of radicchio, fennel and apples. The apples and fenenel add a little bit of sweetness for those who are put off by the bitterness. But I love bitter greens. Escarole too

  11. Liisa

    My Dad grills halves of radicchio and then puts them in a baking dish and covers them with an insanely delicious goat cheese cream sauce with a freshly made crumb topping. I beg for it every Thanksgiving :)

    Wow, that sounds great! ~Elise

  12. Olivia

    Braised radicchio with a little wine and cream over pasta is one of my all time favourite dishes. It takes 30 minutes max to prepare and is comforting yet healthy. I warm garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, then add a mountain of radicchio coarsely chopped. Eventually it halves in size, at which point you add some red wine, turn up the heat slightly and, when that has evaporated, add just a little light cream (reducing the heat again). Stir, add pepper and serve over penne or fusilli sprinkled with Parmesan. yum. might try asiago next time, thanks Nico.

  13. Lisa Warren

    I love radicchio as well and wanted to share my favorite radicchio recipe, Radicchio with Goat Cheese Crostini. Instead, of grilling I use a sautee pan to make this super easy appetizer. Chop up the radicchio – cook it with olive oil a little balsamic vinegar, honey salt and pepper. Serve warm with toasted crostini and a nice spread of fresh goat cheese. It is really tasty and easy!

  14. Tea

    This week I had an amazing dish in a restaurant in San Francisco–radicchio, quartered and wrapped in proscuitto, then cooked in a hot oven. It was served with a creamy, tarter sauce-like accompaniment and I was hooked.

    Looking forward to trying this too. Thanks!

  15. Christina

    Delicious! I made a couple of small changes, but the heart of it (the grilled radicchio!) was the same: Since I can’t tolerate raw garlic well, I sautéed it in a bit of olive oil. I had made too much of a marinade for a halibut steak we were grilling, so I put that into the pan: 1 part soy sauce, 1 part lemon, 1/2 part olive oil and 1/2 part balsamic vinegar. I let that simmer on low heat while I continued preparing dinner (for about 5 minutes? I don’t know… I never pay attention It should just thicken a bit). When it was done I added mustard (I have a “balsamic, fig and dates” one, but any sweet-ish one would do, I think), and some pepper.

    To the chopped radicchio I added a carrot (I made it into shavings using the peeler), a handful of pine nuts, 3 of those tiny crunchy cucumbers, and once tossed with the dressing, grated some fresh romano on top.

    Thank you for this great idea of grilling radicchio! For the first time ever, my husband elected to not eat as much of the fish and potatoes so that he could enjoy the rest of the salad! Love this site!

  16. Renee

    What is the consistency of the dressing? I had to use a blender that would not allow me to add slowly and the consistency of the dressing was very thick.

    This is fine, it’s not supposed to be too watery. If you find it too thick, add a little more vinegar or water. ~Elise

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