Radicchio (pronounced ra-DEE-key‑o) is the Italian name for a large group of red chicories. You may know radicchio as the red flecks found floating among emaciated lettuce leaves in vacuum-packed bags of salad. That variety is typically Radicchio di Chioggia. Which can be delicious, don’t get me wrong. But sadly, in the salad bag example, the radicchio seems to be there strictly for the color it brings to cellophane. Please, don’t let that color your opinion of radicchio. As I said it’s a varied group of leafy vegetables. It deserves your attention. So, may I direct that attention to my favorite radicchio variety? That would be Radicchio di Treviso. Specifically, grilled Treviso.
And I’m not alone in that opinion. The radicchio that Italians eat most often is Treviso (smell me!).
Radicchio di Treviso is as red as the mini-cabbage doppelganger, Radicchio di Chioggia. However, rather than looking like tight little fists, Treviso is missile-shaped. Sort of like a gawky overgrown adolescent Belgian endive.
As a former gawky adolescent, how could I not love Radicchio di Treviso? Sadly, I don’t come across it very often in the markets in my neighborhood. So when I see it, I grab it and I grill it. Once grilled Treviso loses a little of the bitterness that some people find challenging and becomes a terrific base for a grilled vegetable salad.
Grilled Treviso with Proven Favorites
Well, when confronted with hard to come by ingredients I tend to gravitate to classic preparations and proven winners. One of my favorite condiments is a tomato “vinaigrette” recipe from Alison Roman. It appeared in Bon Appétit some time ago. Long enough ago that I basically consider this recipe my own. These days I follow the original recipe only loosely and adapt it as my pantry dictates. Sometimes I add capers, sometimes I add or subtract herbs, sometimes I add garlic. You get the idea. I love the texture of this “vinaigrette”. And just so you know those pesky quotation marks are there because it’s the texture that makes this condiment nothing like any vinaigrette you will find in a bottle marked Wishbone. It’s a chunky dressing, more like salsa than sauce.
The only problem I face is this: cherry tomato season comes with warm weather but Treviso peaks well before that. So, without consulting Alison Roman, I roasted off-season cherry tomatoes to use in her familiar vinaigrette to amplify their sugars. You’ve done that too, right?
While on the subject of amplifying flavors I’ve done the same thing with some early season corn. It’s grilled. The cheese gets its own larger than life presence on the plate too. I’ve chosen a 75% butterfat Délice de Bourgogne triple cream. If you’re not familiar with triple cream I’ll say this– most Bries are double cream (60% butterfat) so you get the idea. GREG
Grilled Treviso and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette