My week-long series on Summer Salads marches on. Today I have a grilled salad. A grilled radicchio wedge salad. After all, it’s summer.
Now I like a wedge salad. I even like a wedge salad with good old-fashioned iceberg lettuce. I really do. I don’t understand why it gets such a bad rap.
But just because I like the classic wedge salad doesn’t mean I can’t play around with it some. Because I like fresh takes on the familiar. This Grilled Radicchio Wedge Salad with Lentils, Honey & Spiced Walnuts is just that. A fresh take on the familiar wedge salad. But it didn’t start that way. I set out to make a lentil salad with chopped radicchio in it. But I made a wrong turn. That’s what I like about wrong turns. They always lead somewhere unexpected.
But before I get too far along here I better bring up the obvious. Radicchio is a terrific vegetable. But many people don’t really care for the particular brand of bitter that radicchio sports. So a lot of these folks end their relationship with it right there. But really, grilled radicchio is a whole other taste. Sure it’s bitter. But it’s a better bitter.
Now if my entire goal today was to introduce you to grilled radicchio then I would have simply advised that you grill it on each side, then sprinkle it with salt and fresh lemon. It would have made a fun, piping-hot alternative to a wedge salad.
But I was in a creative mood. I have been super inspired by an English chef name Yotam Ottolenghi ever since Andy at Wind Attack reviewed the book Plenty on Sippity Sup. So I thought I’d take a stab at combining the wedge salad concept with flavors inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Now, remember this is my interpretation of what I perceive to be something that the Chef might put together. This is not his recipe. So if you know Mr. Ottolenghi and happen to show him my audacious interpretation (and he laughs out loud) don’t tell me, okay?
serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe
- 1/2 c honey
- 1/4 t Aleppo pepper (or other type chili powder)
- 1/2 t turmeric
- salt & pepper, as needed
- 1/2 c walnuts, broken into large pieces
- 1 c puy lentils
- 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T red wine vinegar, plus more for drizzling
- 1 head radicchio, left whole
- pecorino romano, shaved into thin shards, to taste
Prepare the walnuts: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a bowl combine, honey, Aleppo pepper, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until well incorporated. Pour half the honey mixture into a new bowl and set aside for the lentils.
Add the walnuts to the remaining honey and mix to coat the nuts well. Spread the nuts onto a parchment lined baking sheet in as close to a single layer as possible. Bake the nuts 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until crunchy but still sticky. Set aside.
Prepare the lentils: Add the lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with about 2 inches of water, add the crushed red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered 15-20 minutes, until tender but not yet mushy. Drain the lentils and return them to the pan. Discard bay leaves.
In a small bowl whisk together the reserved honey mixture, olive oil, vinegar, a pinch each of salt & pepper until the honey dissolves. Stir the mixture into the lentils while they are still hot, then set aside covered in a warm place.
Grill the radicchio: Heat the grill or grill pan to medium-high (indirect heat). Cut the whole radicchio head into 8 wedges. Brush the grates or the grill pan with a little olive oil. Grill, cut side down, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and sprinkle with a little salt & pepper to taste.
Arrange 2 wedges per person on 4 plates. Set a large spoonful of lentils alongside the wedges. Garnish with reserved nuts, shaved pecorino romano and a drizzle of vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD