Purple radicchio is brightening up the CSA Share boxes this week! Radicchio is a bitter and slightly spicy leaf chicory. Lightly cooking radicchio on the grill or in a pan helps to mellow the flavor. Pair radicchio with acidic ingredients like balsamic vinegar or lemon like in this panzanella. Panzanella is an italian bread salad, with chunks of bread, chopped vegetables, and good olive oil. This panzanella is easy to make and hearty. Omnivores feel free to add crumbled bacon or sliced salami.. The sweetness of the basil also compliments the radicchio well. Start by grilling the bread. Brush each side of the bread with a little olive oil. The bread will soften in the salad, so it does not need to be as crunchy as a crouton. Get some nice char marks on the bread and transfer to a cutting board to chop into cubes. If you don’t have a grill, try a cast iron grill pan, or toast the chunks in the oven. Sprinkle the toasted bread with sea salt.
Set the bread cubes aside, and grill the radicchio. Thoroughly wash the head of radicchio, shake out as much water as you can, and then dry with a towel. Slice in half. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper over the radicchio and grill about 2 minutes per side. You just want to wilt the radicchio, and give the leaves a little char. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bite size pieces.
When the radicchio is ready, Mix together the dressing ingredients. Toss the chopped radicchio, grilled bread, and basil leaves together with the shallot dressing. You might not use all of the dressing, so add a little bit at a time. If you have leftover dressing it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Taste and adjust seasoning with lemon juice and sea salt. This will mellow out the radicchio flavor, so just add lemon and salt a little bit at a time until you get it right. If you really like olives a splash of the kalamata brine will also help.
Transfer the salad to a platter and top with kalamata olives and shaved parmesan.
Grilled Radicchio Panzanella
1 head of radicchio, thoroughly washed and dried, sliced in half
Fresh bread to equal 4 cups of bread cubes (I used half of a small boule, sourdough would also work)
1 cup of whole basil leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup of whole kalamata olives
1/4 cup shaved parmesan (use a vegetable peeler to shave pieces off of a wedge)
lemon juice and sea salt for seasoning
1 minced shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt + pepper to taste
Heat a grill or grill pan to high. Brush slices of bread with olive oil, and grill a minute or two per side until bread has a little char and grill marks are present. Remove bread from grill and chop into one inch cubes.
Drizzle olive oil, salt + pepper over radicchio halves. Grill radicchio halves about 1 minute per side until radicchio starts to wilt and edges char. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bite size pieces.
Combine dressing ingredients. Toss dressing, radicchio, bread, and basil together. Add the dressing in small amounts, you might have some leftover. Taste and adjust seasoning using lemon juice and sea salt until you like the flavor. Add a splash of kalamata olive juice if you like. Transfer salad to a platter and top with olives and cheese.
Variations. For a gluten-free dish, use your favorite gluten free bread. I have used Against All Grain and Udi’s brand with good results. You could also try polenta in place of the bread. Omnivores try adding sliced salami, sopressata, or calebrese sausage. Use green olives in place of kalamata.