We ran into a mind-blowing grilled radicchio salad at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in the Venetian at Las Vegas this summer on a little eating and drinking research trip. Our server said the salad was not-to-be-missed and she made sure we understood it was an unusual warm salad covered with melted cheese, a salad that crosses the line into hot vegetable side territory. Apparently, it comes as a complete shock to some.
The salad was a quartered head of radicchio lightly charred with a little olive oil and salt, chopped up, topped with smoked mozzarella cheese, and parked under the broiler (or probably in the hot pizza oven) until the cheese melted, then drizzled with a very fine balsamic vinegar.
We tasted smoky, salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy and slightly bitter at the same time. The excellent quality balsamic vinegar drizzled over the crown of melted cheese and still lightly crunchy radicchio really made the difference. Salad or not, it’s a very stylish and very easy cool-weather dish to serve with just about anything you’re grilling this fall. Since the grill is already hot, you’re halfway there. Put it together in the ten minutes those steaks are resting before you carve them.
Your grilled radicchio salad can handle some customization. Add chopped pieces of thin grilled asparagus spears, roasted corn kernels, even some bits of country ham, bacon, Prosciutto or pancetta. Next time we’re trying a combo of radicchio and Brussels sprouts. Use smoked Gouda or change up to a harder cheese like Parmesan or pecorino. Whatever you do, throw economy aside and spring for a very good quality balsamic vinegar. It really makes a spectacular dish.
- 2 heads radicchio, quartered
- ½ cup shredded cheese such as smoked mozzarella, smoked gouda, Parmesan or pecorino
- About 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
- Heat the grill to high. Drizzle olive oil over the radicchio wedges to lightly coat and season with salt.
- Grill the wedges about a minute or so on each side, turning carefully with tongs to prevent the leaves from separating and falling into the fire. Don’t leave your post and let them burn; just pick up some char and smoke.
- Remove the wedges to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces, more or less.
- Place the radicchio in an ovenproof skillet, drizzle with olive oil and top with cheese.
- Place the skillet on the grill, close the cover and allow the cheese to melt or place in a 400°F oven until the cheese melts.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving.