I have never grilled trevisano or radicchio salad until last week. But since I have an Italian friend (collegaue of my hubby) Luca, from him I always learn something new about the Italian witches kitchen. This happened to me last week when he invited us for a pizza party. By the time we arrived at his parents’s they had already fired up the big pizza oven, that they have in the center of their living room and then later they proclaimed that from now everybody would make their own pizza with what one’s desire. I topped mine with cheese and ham but eagerly wanted to taste everybodie’s pizzas. I have to say all of the pies were great, but the one that was the best for me was topped with radicchio and a bit of blue cheese. When Luca’s mother saw how excited I was she had asked me whether I had ever eaten grilled radicchio since they’re not the most common vegetables in the world. -And if you don’t prepare them right, they can be bitter and unpleasant.-she added. I had to confess that that was my very first time I’d eaten it.
Then yesterday I wanted to experience the buzz once again so I grilled some radicchio of my own. I Have to say it was really spectacular when the shredded leaves turned sweet and nutty as they charred. It’s a magical transformation, and one that worked just as well without the pizza base. By the way I grilled the radicchio directly over the flames of the grill.
Now I know that whether you use radicchio (they look like oval-shaped purple cabbages at the supermarket) or Trevisano (a special variety of radicchio that’s similar in color, but shaped more like a head of Romaine lettuce, and far less common) the easiest way to do it, is to split the heads in half, leaving all the leaves attached to the core. You can then grill it directly over a moderate flame. At first the leaves will dry out and char a bit, and then they’ll start to release moisture as they continue to cook. Once you’ve flipped the heads and they’re totally tender (the leaves should be dark brown), with plenty of succulent juices that burst out when you bite into them. They’re good enough on their own with just a bit of salt and pepper, but some blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, Rockfort does an excellent effect plus a drizzle of good olive oil.
Grilled radicchio with Gorgonzola or blue cheese
Light one half chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to medium-high heat. Set cooking grated in place, cover gill and allow preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place radicchio cut side-down directly over the heat. Grill until lightly charred on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip and season the tops with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until second side is charred, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to cooler side of grill, cover, and cook until fully tender, about 1 minute long. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and saba. Serve immediately! I also prepared mashed celery, flavored with horse-radish( I cooked in water and milk mixture), and served with some sausage. It was excellent!