I grow radicchio every year and part of the appeal is that it is a beautiful plant that starts out looking like any other leafy green but then develops a concentrated center that is the desired part of this vegetable.
Not a lot of people have a craving for the bitter greens, but I do. The intensity is without equal and with savory counterparts this can come out in surprising ways. Radicchio with brussel sprouts and pancetta is a favorite in the Nolan household.
Tonight I tried something different that I read about in parts across different publications. Cooking radicchio transforms it, softening the sharpness while bringing out nut flavors. However, it needs to be paired with something, cooking it by itself leaves you with a wilted and uninteresting dish.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbs crushed garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
zest from medium orange
Whisk all the ingredients together into a marinade and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut one radicchio into quarters, carefully removing the hard stem in the process. Gently place in the marinade and I say gently because the radicchio quarter sections have a tendency to come apart and you really want to keep these intact as much as possible. Leave the radicchio in the marinade for at least 20 minutes, spooning excess over each quarter at intervals.
Pre-heat the grill on high and place the quarters on the grill. Charring a leafy green like this is a tricky affair because you do want to achieve a char but not to point where it dries out. The oil in the marinade will develop the greens nicely, leaving you with a slightly charred exterior and a wonderfully warm and softened interior. You will be surprised by how long this will stay on the grill but be patient and the result with be worth the wait.
Plate the radicchio and sprinkle with shaved Parmigiana-Reggiani or it’s saltier cousin, Pecorino-Romano. You may have noticed that I don’t add salt in this recipe, but I do rely on the cheese to deliver the sharp and salty finish that brings it all together. The first time I made this, I was surprised by how nicely the orange zest worked with the garlic and balsamic, creating something teriyaki-like. Grilled greens are a great summer treat, all the better when the greens come from your own garden.