Radicchio: a perfect example that grilling can make just about anything better. Most of the time I can't stand the stuff—the sharp bitterness wreaks havoc on my tastebuds. So when a head of it came in this week's CSA share, it was a last second moment of clarity that I should take it to the grill instead of giving it the old heave-ho into the collective swap bin in exchange for something more desirable. Totally the right decision—grilling transformed this foe to friend.
It was still bitter, but a bitterness that I found easy to take and rather pleasing. I mixed it together with red leaf lettuce and knob onions, which also got the grilled treatment, into salad that was a sea of textures and tastes with only a few simple ingredients.
There was the mellow bitterness and crisp edges of the radicchio, creamy and sweet onion innards, crunchy and charred onion stalks, and the freshness of lettuce that was topped off with a sherry-mustard vinaigrette. It's not too often I'm found eating salad, and even rarer seen eating radicchio, but grill it up like this and I'll be the first to dig in.
- 1 medium head red leaf lettuce, torn into pieces, rinsed, and dried
- 1 head radicchio, cut in half and rinsed
- 6 knob onions
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the vinaigrette
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 medium shallot, finely minced
- Type of fire: two-zone indirect
- Grill heat: medium-high
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette a small bowl and set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate for indirect cooking. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush the onions and radicchio all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the onions on the hot side of grill and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move to the cool side of the grill, cover, and continue cooking until onions are slighty soft, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the grill and set aside. Place the radicchio on the hot side of the grill, cut side down, and cook until edges are crisp and it just begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the grill.
Chop the onions and radicchio medium and toss together in a big bowl with the prepared lettuce. Portion out into bowls or plates, drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.