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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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)
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.
More Great Ways to Enjoy Radicchio
- Fregola Sarda with Radicchio and Hazelnuts
- Stone Fruit, Radicchio and Pine Nut Salad
- Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing
- Smoked Salmon Salad with Farro & Goat Cheese
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.
For the Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- ¼ 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
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 ⅔ 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.