Radicchio hits the grill and gets drizzled with a honey-sweetened ginger dressing in this easy side salad recipe.
There was something about the way they looked that drew me to them, these deep purple variegated orbs sitting amongst a sea of green on the produce department. I added them to my cart without purpose. Once home, they nestled in the crisper drawer, getting cozy with the chioggia beets and rainbow chard that also caught my eye. A few bunches of ramps rounded out the renters, paying their way with what they would become on the dinner table after their stay.
Tucked inside the drawer under the bare bulb of the refrigerator and the stark white interior walls the three sat comfortably. The largest in the trio had the audacity to up and leave the other two after he canoodled with a cabbage and turned into slaw a few nights earlier. The remaining radicchio sought companionship in all the wrong places until they finally ended up together. Alone.
Finally grilled shrimp and a quick fried rice were made, but the real star of the show were those brilliant purple bursts of color on the plate screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!”
If you aren’t familiar with this chicory, they look like small heads of cabbage. They’re an early spring plant, preferring a colder growing season, but here in the north where the growing season starts late, they end up being a bit of a late spring option when you can get them. I saw them pop up at multiple supermarkets recently, and they’re too pretty to resist.
Their crisp cabbage-textured leaves have a bitter quality about them. Soaking them in an ice bath helps remove some of it if you’re eating fresh, and grilling them turns them even sweeter still. Something about this bite was calling a honey-sweetened ginger sauce, similar to the way daikon adds a bit of peppery crunch to the slaw that tops our Korean Barbecue Tacos.
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup safflower oil
2 scallions, chopped
Remove the outer leaves from the radicchio and cut into quarters along the base, leaving the stem end intact. Place the quarters in a bowl of ice water and submerge completely. Allow to soak for 30-60 minutes.
Preheat the grill. Remove the radicchio from the water bath and pat dry with a towel.
In a small bowl combine the rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, minced ginger, minced garlic, sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until blended. While whisking, slowly pour 1/2 cup of the safflower oil into the dressing.
Brush the radicchio with the remaining oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and place on the preheated grill. Grill on high, searing each side to a golden brown before removing. Serve immediately drizzled with the dressing and topped with chopped scallions.
Makes 4 servings.