Radicchio is bitter. There is no way around it; it just is. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I love me some radicchio especially if I can get it grown locally like this beautiful radicchio grown by Bennett-Burks Farm. The guys even handed me an old family recipe that gave me the idea for this salad. The thing with bitter greens -- hey, if they're purple, are they still greens? -- is that you have to do something to them to bring in some balance.
In this dish, I used sweet golden raisins and tangy orange segments to bring a sweet balance and some acidity to the dish. Lightly grilling the radicchio lends a subtle smoky flavor that works well here.
If you've never tried radicchio, this is the time and this is the dish. It's good stuff! Plus, it's super-fast to throw together, which is good when company comes around.
Grilled Radicchio Salad + Oranges + Raisins
1 large head of radicchio (about the size of a grapefruit, or two smaller ones)
1/4 cup olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon local honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from one lemon)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
sea salt (to taste)
1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1 medium orange (supremed)
Preheat your outdoor grill to high. You may also use a cast-iron grill pan for this if the weather is nasty or you don't have a grill. Just preheat the grill pan over high heat. (Be warned! Cast-iron can get pretty smoky, so turn on the vent-a-hood.) Next, slice the large radicchio into quarters leaving the root-end intact so that the leaves do not separate. Drizzle cut radicchio with 1/8 cup of the olive oil. Grill the radicchio for about 20-30 seconds per side. You want grill marks and a smoky flavor, but you don't want to burn it all up. Remove radicchio from the grill to a plate in order for it to rest while you make the dressing.
Place the honey and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk as you add the remaining 1/8 cup of olive oil. Add the raisins, pepper, and salt to taste.
To assemble the salad, place once quarter of the grilled radicchio on each plate and press it with the palm of your hand. This will spread the leaves out just a bit to make a nicer presentation. Divide the dressing, walnuts, and supremed orange slices among the salads. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.