This recipe works best with finely-grated parmesan cheese, grated on a microplane or on the finest holes of your cheese grater.
If you can't find radicchio, substitute frisee, endive, or another bitter green.
During the summer, try grilling the quartered heads of radicchio before slicing them into pieces for the salad. Grilling brings out sweetness in the radicchio!
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 large or 2 small heads radicchio (10 to 12 ounces)
- 1 16-ounce can green olives (look for California ripe green olives), drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup dry olives)
- 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 Toast the sunflower seeds: Add the sunflowers seeds to a small, dry skillet. Toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the seeds look toasted around the edges and smell fragrant.
Transfer the seeds to a bowl to cool. (Sunflower seeds can be toasted several days in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature until needed.)
2 Prepare the radicchio: Peel away and discard a layer or two of the outer leaves if they are looking wilted or battered. Cut the head of radicchio into quarters through the root. Trim away the root.
Cut each quarter cross-wise into strips 1- to 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3 Add the chopped green olives, chickpeas, and 3/4 cup of the cheese to the bowl with the radicchio.
4 Make the dressing and toss the salad: Whisk together the vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss gently until the ingredients are evenly coated. If the cheese clumps together, break it apart with a spatula and stir in.
5 Let the salad stand at least 10 minutes or up to an hour. This gives the flavors time to combine and mellow.
6 Serve the salad: Taste a forkful of the salad and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the salad on individual plates or one shared platter. Top with the remaining cheese and the toasted sunflower seeds.
This salad is best served within an hour of preparation, but leftovers are quite good for several days and make a great lunch salad. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.