The tender greens of summer may no longer be fresh from the garden but you can still enjoy a leafy wintertime vegetable from Italy’s Veneto region to make a Northern Italian Winter Salad - Grilled Radicchio with Ricotta Salata.
Radicchio’s nutrient dense leaves are best enjoyed from January to April when this white-ribbed, wine-stained
look alike lettuce reaches its peak season. A member of the chicory family there are several varieties of raddichio.
Two that are widely available in the States are the Treviso and Verona. Verona (Rosso da Verona) radicchio is similar in shape to butter lettuce and grows in loosely packed round heads with open loose leaves. Treviso varieties are oblong with pointed ends and grow in small, tightly packed heads.
Radicchio's territory of growth is along the Po Valley in the Veneto region of Northern Italy where each town has its own variety including Chioggia (similar to Verona but completely round), Chiavari, Palla Rossa (red ball) and Castelfranco, a radicchio poetically referred to as Fiore d'Inverno (winter flower).
Regardless of the variety, look for radicchio with firm leaves that don’t show signs of wilting or browning and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator in an airtight bag.
Grilled Radicchio with Ricotta Salata.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Capezzana extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 heads radicchio da Verona, sliced into 1-inch rounds
1/2 cup shaved ricotta salata
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
Preheat a grill pan to medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, combine the anchovy paste, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Whisk until smooth and combined. Place the radicchio in the pan and grill until charred and starting to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to the bowl with the dressing and toss well to coat. Top with the ricotta salata and sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts.