Cooking

Quick vs. Slow: Radicchio Edition

Two takes on our favorite chicory, radicchio
Radiccio Tart and Seared Treviso
Photo: Tasting Table

Renee Erickson says of eating radicchio in the colder months: "It's really nice to serve something other than root vegetables or squash."

Much as we love root veg and squash, we've had our fill. So we couldn't agree more with the chef of Seattle's darling restaurants The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle.

Radicchio grows long into the winter in the Pacific Northwest, but you, too, can get your hands on the bitter, slightly spicy lettuce long after most leafy vegetables have died off for the season. Adding bite to a salad is as easy as slicing the leaves and tossing them in, or you can tame the sharpness by sautéeing or giving them a little char on the grill.

For this installment of Quick vs. Slow, we turn to chef Erickson's gorgeous cookbook, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories (Sasquatch Books, $40), for two dramatically different ways to cook the lovely purple-hued chicories, which she first learned to eat while traveling in Italy.

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At The Whale Wins, Erickson serves a grilled Treviso radicchio dish on and off all winter. Cooking halves of the lettuce—the torpedo-shaped variety lends itself best to this preparation—quickly on the grill maintains its sharp bitter flavors, and Erickson especially loves how grilling produces "that really great kind of burnt quality on the edges that I think enhances the bitterness."

In her cookbook, she "drapes" the charred radicchio with a thick, pungent anchovy dressing, whose flavors meet those of the bitter vegetable head-on, then finishes the salad with a sprinkling of crunchy bread crumbs for extra texture (see the recipe).

If you've got more time, try her slower, more luxurious take: Erickson sautées and then bakes wilted radicchio in a Comté cheese tart studded with bacon (see the recipe). Cooking slivered radicchio leaves in butter and then combining them with cheese, eggs and pastry really softens the harshness, and pairing "that really rich richness of the cheese with that bitterness is just a really nice balance." The tart is a simple and comforting dish she likes to serve at home for a light dinner or a leisurely lunch.

You won't leaf a single slice behind.

Get the recipes:
• Radicchio and Comté Cheese Tart
• Grilled Treviso Radicchio with Anchovy Vinaigrette and Bread Crumbs

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