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Radicchio Salad captures the essence of sophisticated simplicity. A chic yet easy-to-make dish, this salad pairs the unique, slightly bitter taste of radicchio with the milder flavors of butter lettuce and ripe pear. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a peaceful meal, this 20-minute recipe delivers elegance without demanding hours in the kitchen.

Radicchio Salad on a white salad plate photographed from the top.

Imagine a refreshing combination of crisp radicchio leaves, velvety butter lettuce, and delicate pear slices, embellished by the tang of crumbled gorgonzola and the crunch of coarsely chopped pecans. A drizzle of homemade White Balsamic Vinaigrette to finish creates a well-balanced dish that complements just about any main course.

Ingredients You Need to Make Radicchio Salad

Ingredients for Radicchio Salad on a linen cloth.

For the Salad

  • Radicchio: Look for heads that are compact and have a rich purple color.
  • Butter Lettuce: Choose leaves that are vibrant and crisp.
  • Pear: Use a ripe but firm pear; a Bosc or Anjou pear works well.
  • Gorgonzola Cheese: Choose a crumbly, mild variety.
  • Pecans: Use fresh pecans that are either raw or toasted.
White Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients on a linen cloth.

For the Vinaigrette

  • White Balsamic Vinegar: Opt for a high-quality brand for the best flavor.
  • Dijon Mustard: Choose a smooth variety without any added spices.
  • Honey: Use raw honey if available for the most complex flavor.
  • Shallot: Pick a shallot that is firm and free from any signs of sprouting.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use one that is cold-pressed for a richer flavor.
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

All About Radicchio

Radicchio (Italian chicory), often considered the gem of Italian leafy vegetables, brings a touch of bitterness that balances out the flavors in many dishes. This vibrant purple and white leafy vegetable is not just visually stunning but also packs a nutritional punch. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, radicchio offers more than just aesthetic appeal. Whether grilled, roasted, or served fresh in salads like this one, radicchio adds complexity and depth that make any dish more memorable.

Close up of Radicchio Salad served.

Recipe Options

  • If you’re not a fan of Gorgonzola, blue cheese or feta cheese make excellent substitutes, each offering its own unique tang.
  • Switch out the white balsamic vinegar for other nuanced options like Champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
  • For a different touch of sweetness in the vinaigrette, swap the honey for maple syrup or agave nectar.
  • Prefer a different fruit? Replace the pear with a thinly sliced sweet apple for a different yet delicious crunch.
  • Instead of manually whisking the vinaigrette, you can use a food processor to quickly blend all the ingredients.
  • Add a handful of dried cranberries for a sweet and tart element.

Recipe Tips

  • Make the vinaigrette ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld together; just give it a quick whisk before drizzling.
  • Tear the radicchio and butter lettuce by hand instead of using a knife; this helps prevent the leaves from browning.
  • For a more intense nutty flavor, consider toasting the pecans before adding them to the salad. (instructions below)
Radicchio Salad served on a white plate with radicchio and pear in the background.

How to Toast Pecans (Optional)

Toasting pecans is a simple way to enhance their flavor and crunch. Place the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 5-8 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even toasting. Keep a close eye on them, as they can burn quickly. Once they’re golden brown and aromatic, remove them from the oven and let them cool before using. (Also excellent for Apple Pecan Salad or Bibb Lettuce Salad.)

More Great Ways to Enjoy Radicchio

How to Make Radicchio Salad

In a bowl, mix vinegar, mustard, honey, and shallot. Slowly add oil while whisking to blend. Season with salt and pepper, then chill in a pitcher until use.

Place radicchio and butter lettuce in a large bowl, add most of the vinaigrette, and toss. Top with pear, gorgonzola, and pecans, then finish with extra vinaigrette as needed.

Recipe Video

Radicchio Salad

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Calories: 286
Servings: 4 people
Pleasant bitterness meets creamy tang and nutty crunch in this 20-minute salad that's perfect for both quiet evenings and festive get-togethers.

Ingredients  

For the Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 small head radicchio washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small head butter lettuce washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 ripe pear halved, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 ounces coarsely chopped pecans

Instructions 

To Make Vinaigrette

  • In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, and shallot together until well combined. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to serving pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Assemble the Salad

  • Add radicchio and butter lettuce to a large salad bowl or serving platter; drizzle about 2/3 of the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss to coat (or a bit less if you want your salad lightly dressed). Arrange pear slices over salad and sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese and pecans; drizzle with desired amount of dressing to finish. Serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 174mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1466IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4 Comments

  1. Valentina says:

    This is such a beautiful “welcome fall” salad! I love pears in a salad and the white balsamic vinaigrette is lovely! 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Valentina!

  2. Ben | Havocinthekitchen says:

    5 stars
    Wonderful! We eat a lot of salads, but I use radicchio so rarely. Thank you for a delicious reminder that this salad has a unique pleasant bitterness that pairs so beautifully with juicy pears, piquant cheese, and nuts.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Ben!