Cooking Up Radicchio

Béatrice Peltre gets to know the bold personality of radicchio.

Sometimes I’m full of kitchen inspiration; other times I lose my spark completely, staring blankly into the fridge for several minutes before settling on toast. When this happens, getting to know a new ingredient is a lovely way to bring the fun back into my cooking. When I first started playing with the deceptively intense radicchio, I was reminded of just how infinitely creative cooking can be.

The first word to come to mind for most people who’ve eaten radicchio is bitter. Take a bite of raw radicchio on its own, and it’s guaranteed to wake up your taste buds—though not every- one will enjoy the sensation. My general approach is to tame the vegetable, balancing out its strong flavor with equally strong ingredients so subtle flavors can emerge.

Sautéing radicchio immediately mellows the bitterness, and ingredients like Parmesan, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar lend a balance of sweet, salty, and fragrant flavor. This dish is simple and rustic, yet bold. And it only takes a few minutes to whip up.

When you’re entertaining guests, radicchio can make an hors d’oeuvre both interesting and sophisticated.

The crostini recipe I’ve come up with blends European ingredients, like ricotta and chives,…