Whenever I want to add a “splash of color” to my recipes radicchio does the trick. In this salad, radicchio isn’t just there to flaunt its color–it’s the star! At first glance you might think, oh but boring it’s just a radicchio salad…but this salad is anything but boring. The key is the dressing! This super quick radicchio salad delivers a lot of flavor. Tossed together with tangy crème fraîche, sweet syrupy honey, freshly squeezed orange and a dash of Dijon, radicchio transforms itself into a refreshing new salad sensation.
A radicchio salad is a great way to lighten up a season dominated by hearty, warm meals.
When I am looking for a super simple fall or winter salad, this is one favorite fall back recipes. It takes only minutes to prepare and is a great addition to so many types of meals. You can serve it as light starter or as a tasty side dish alongside grilled or roasted vegetables, baked potatoes or even roast chicken. It’s also a fantastic addition to any holiday meal, especially since the salad holds up so well without getting soggy. And that’s why it still remains one of my go-to winter salads.
The bitterness of radicchio can vary
Crunchy radicchio (also known as Italian chicory) with its slightly bitter leaves and distinctive reddish-purple and white color, is a in abundant in Germany from June to November. The depth of its coloring all depends upon the nature of its cultivation and how much light it was exposed to when growing. If none at all, the contrast between the deep maroon, white-veined leaves will be very strong. As for the bitterness, that’s dependent on the variety, it’s stage of growth and the weather at the time of harvest. So it can be a bit of a gamble at times as you journey through its range on the bitter scale, but more often than not, it’s only faintly bitter. Or perhaps I’ve been lucky…so far… Though, do make sure radicchio leaves are fresh looking and bright — older, dryer leaves taste more bitter.
Choose a less bitter variety or follow this tip to reduce the bitterness
The compact, cabbage shaped varieties (radicchio di Chioggia) have bitter leaves in contrast to Radicchio rosso di Treviso with its long tapering shape (like a large Belgian endive) red and white striped leaves, pure white stems and refined flavor. Some professional chefs recommend soaking the leaves in ice cold water for an hour or two before preparing to reduce the level of bitterness of a radicchio salad. Even letting it soak for 15 minutes helps to remove some of its bitterness. I do this in a salad spinner before draining the water and spinning until dry. Though, rather than question, why radicchio, perhaps it should be which radicchio? I’ll let you choose.
For the salad:
2 small heads of radicchio, leaves chopped or torn
For the dressing:
1/2 cup crème fraîche (150 g)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon good-quality white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended and smooth.
2. In a large bowl, add the radicchio leaves, toss with the dressing to gently to coat the leaves and serve.