Most of us only know radicchio as the round, reddish-purple, lettuce-like vegetable, usually grown in California.
But more local farmers are growing several different varieties of this winter vegetable with Italian roots and an intriguing bitter flavor. The colorful member of the chicory family offers the region’s eaters a better-tasting alternative to out of season lettuce grown farther south.
If you see Brussels sprouts sold on the stalk, grab them. They’re usually fresher and often a much better deal. Most stalks hold at least a couple of pounds of the little cabbages.
Look for radicchio rosso di Treviso, usually just labeled Treviso, a milder chicory that looks like a bright purple and white head of Romaine. The long-leafed Treviso is often milder, but if you can only get the round Chioggia variety, use this restaurant trick to temper its bitter flavor: cut the leaves and soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
What You'll Need
For the shopping list
- 3 slices country style bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, for croutons
- 1/2 pound of Brussels sprouts
- 2 Bosc pears
- 1 head radicchio, preferably Treviso type
From the kitchen
- 1 Chef's Knife
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Skillet
- 1 Cheese Grater
- 1 Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Spoons
* You can substitute 3 cloves garlic and 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets for the purple stripe garlic and fish sauce; crush them together in a mortar and pestle, then blend them into the Duke’s when you make the dressing.
Sweet and creamy flavors help offset the bitterness of radicchio, so we add pears and mix some mayonnaise into the dressing.
What you'll have to do
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and toast the bread until golden brown on all sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the garlic powder and fish sauce with the mayonnaise, then stir in the oil and vinegar.
Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise, then slice thinly. Quarter the pears, cut out the seed cores, and slice (peeling is optional). Cut the Treviso radicchio leaves into ½ inch slices.
Add the radicchio, sprouts, pears, and croutons to the dressing and toss well. Taste and add salt as needed.