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Pan-Grilled Radicchio with Italian-Style Salsa Verde

Ruby-red radicchio is delightfully bitter. Grilling thick wedges of it caramelizes and sweetens the outer leaves. The salsa verde adds a contrasting color as well as a piquancy that brightens the winter chicory. When seasoning the salsa verde, be sure to taste it first since the anchovies and capers both have a measure of natural saltiness.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Treviso radicchio heads
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, pus 8 Tbs.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper for sprinkling, plus more, to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbs. capers
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, preferably Italian
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh mint

Directions:

Remove and discard any blemished or discolored leaves from the radicchio heads, then cut each head into quarters. Arrange the quarters on a baking sheet, drizzle them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Set aside.

Finely grate the zest from the lemon, then halve the fruit and squeeze the juice from one half into a small bowl. Set aside the remaining half.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon zest, garlic, horseradish, capers and anchovies. Process until well chopped. Add the parsley and mint leaves, lemon juice and 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse puree. With the motor running, slowly pour in the remaining 6 Tbs. olive oil and process until smooth; it should have the consistency of pesto. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and taste and adjust the seasonings. If desired, add a bit more lemon juice.

Heat a ridged grill pan on the stovetop over medium heat. When it is hot, add the radicchio quarters in a single layer and cook until they just begin to wilt and caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with the salsa verde. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).