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, with Asian ingre- dients, like toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar. It’s playful and unique, and the slaw tastes wonderful on its own—so after the guests go home you’ll have a healthy meal for tomorrow’s lunch.

I hope you enjoy exploring the intense flavors of radicchio as much as I do. À votre santé et bon appétit.

Sautéed radicchio with Parmesan and Basil

Serves 4

2 heads radicchio sea salt and pepper

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced 6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp finely chopped basil

shaved Parmesan cheese, to taste

Halve each head of radicchio lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 wedges, making sure to keep the core intact as this ensures the wedges stay together; set aside.

In a bowl, add sea salt and pepper. Stir in the vinegar, garlic, and 4 tablespoons olive oil; whisk to emulsify; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the wedges
of radicchio and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Add more oil as you cook, if necessary. Remove and set aside. Add the vinaigrette to the pan and cook until slightly reduced. Return the wedges of radicchio to the pan and cook for 3 more minutes. Serve warm, garnished with Parmesan and basil.

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