Our friends at the Culinary Breeding Network call the upper left coast the Veneto of North America because radicchio grows so well here. The purple-red chicory has been cultivated for hundreds of years in the temperate farmlands of northeastern Italy to provide salad greens during the winter. Visit a farmers market or well-stocked produce section in Oregon and Washington during the colder months and you’ll see delicate pink heads of Rosa del Veneto, red-speckled pale green leaves of Castelfranco, and the deep purple, squid-like tendrils of Rosso di Treviso Tardivo along with the more familiar bright red spheres of Rosso di Chioggia.
Any of them work in this salad. The mildly bitter flavor is balanced with sweet caramelized dates, crunchy slices of apple, tart preserved lemon, and creamy tahini. Pecan Parm, a mix of ground nuts and nutritional yeast, adds a parmigiano-like umami to the dressing.
For the shopping list
*the longer heads of Treviso radicchio tend to be a little less bitter than the round Chioggia and may not require soaking
From our shop
$18 - Brooklyn - New York
$12 - Seattle - Washington
$20 - Sebastopol - California
$8 - Seattle - Washington
$11 - Austin - Texas
From the kitchen
Large Mixing Bowl
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.
Chop radicchio into bite-sized pieces. To reduce its bitterness, soak the cut radicchio in ice water for at least 30 minutes or up to 90 minutes, then drain or use a salad spinner.
Remove the pits from the dates and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook in 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned and a little crispy, from 5-10 minutes.
Cut the apple into quarters, remove the cores, cut each quarter in half, and slice into bite-sized pieces.
Stir together 1 teaspoon of preserved lemon paste, 1 teaspoon of garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of tahini, 1 tablespoon of mayo, 1 tablespoon of Pecan Parm, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Toss the radicchio, apple and dates with the dressing. Taste and add salt if needed.
This baked pasta with mushrooms and eggplant gets topped with an olive oil besciamella and looks as good as it tastes.