Monday, May 16, 2011

Radicchio Grigliata (Grilled Radicchio)

While reading a past issue of  La Cucina Italiana, I came across a recipe for grilled radicchio.  With white spines and red leaves, radicchio is a leaf chicory with a bitter taste.  There are a few types of radicchio.  One type is Radicchio di Chiogga, which is a round, grapefruit size of head of leafy radicchio.  Another type is Radicchio di Treviso, which resembles Belgian endive.  The former (di Chiogga) is the most common type of radicchio in the United States, while the latter (di Treviso) has its own protected status, commonly referred to as "IGP" or Indicazione Geografica Protetta.  (The "IGP" is the protected status provided by the European Union to an agricultural product or food stuff that is of a certain quality or reputation within a particular geographic region.)

After having read the recipe, I decided to make grilled radicchio as a side.  So, I picked up a couple of tuna kabobs and a couple of heads of radicchio from a local supermarket.  I went home and planned how I would prepare the radicchio.  The recipe called for the use of Radicchio di Treviso; however, I had Radicchio di Chiogga.  This required some alterations in terms of how I was going to grill this vegetable.

Traditionally, grilled radicchio is prepared by brushing the leaves with olive oil and then placed onto the grill for about twenty-five to thirty minutes, which would result in brown leaves and tender spines.  I wanted to retain some of the red color in the leaves, along with some of the crunch of the spines.  So, I decided to modify the recipe a little by shortening the grilling time and by placing the radicchio onto the grill without bathing the leaves in oil.  (This helps to prevent flareups from the dripping oil that would simply scorch the leaves.)  I saved the oil for another use, namely as an impromptu dressing by whisking lemon juice with the olive oil and adding a very little pinch of crushed red pepper.  I then drizzled the lemon and olive oil over the leaves just before serving.

In the end, the radicchio retained much of its redness, with browning along the edges.  The dressing provided a nice citrus note, which contrasted with the radicchio's bitterness.  If you do not like bitter vegetables, consider doubling the amount of the lemon-olive oil dressing.

Adapted from La Cucina Italiana, May 2010, page 47
Serves 2

2 heads of radicchio, halved
2 lemons, juiced
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
1 very small pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Clean the radicchio.  Wash the heads of radicchio.  Use one lemon half and rub down the edges of the radicchio that were cut.

2.  Prepare the dressing.  Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice.  Add salt and ground pepper to taste.  The add the red pepper, continuing to whisk the ingredients.

3.  Grill the radicchio.  Oil the grate well with extra virgin olive oil.  Place the halved heads of radicchio on the grill.  Cook for about eight to ten minutes.  Flip the radicchio and continue to grill for about eight to ten more minutes.  Remove from the heat and peel the leaves from the core.

4.  Plate the dish.  Place the leaves on a dish and drizzle the dressing over them.  Plate whatever meat or fish you will be serving in the center of the radicchio.


For more information about radicchio, check out Wikipedia

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