When grilled lettuce salads first broke out, it was not well received. I remember watching a reality cooking competition show and the one of the chefs decided to grill the romaine in his salad. The judges were not pleased. Fast forward a couple of years and now grilled salads are being featured at more than one restaurant around the world. I’m still hesistant to grill romaine lettuce (don’t ask me why, it’s just a feeling I get when it comes to grilled romaine) but I decided to give the grilled salad idea a chance with radicchio. Grilled radicchio salad with fresh grape tomatoes, corn, spiced pecans, goat cheese and reduced balsamic vinaigrette sounds like a combination I can come on board with!
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 ear of corn, husks removed
- 1 head radicchio
- 15 grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare the spiced pecans. Lightly beat the egg white with the water. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans on top in one even layer. Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pecans, stirring to combine. Toast the pecans for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer pecans to a clean parchment paper. Let cool completely.
- Pour balsamic vinegar in a medium sauce pot. Heat over medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by 1/2 and thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Fill medium pot with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the corn and bring the water back to a boil. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Cut radicchio into quarters. Brush cut sides with olive oil. Place cut side down on grill and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove from grill and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Place two radicchio quarters on each place. Top with corn, tomatoes, spiced pecans, and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle reduced balsamic on top. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I never was a big fan of fresh radicchio in salads. The bitter purple leaves are usually too strong compared with the other ingredients and outshines the others. Little did I know that radicchio is meant to be cooked! The Italians almost rarely include the leaves in a salad and instead either consume them alone with simple olive-oil based dressings or more often, grill or braise them – life changing information. Now I can appreciate radicchio for all its glory.
You can play with the ingredients for the salad, substituting the pecans for walnuts or almonds, goat cheese for feta, tomatoes for grapes, adding asparagus – the options are endless. The corn can be grilled instead of boiled; if boiling the corn, make sure not to salt the water! Salting the water can make the kernels become tough. Either leave the water pure or add a little sugar if desired.
The bitterness of the radicchio intensifies after it is grilled; pair it with rich flavors and the salad becomes a satisfying meal. Sure there’s no meat, but the creamy goat cheese, spiced pecans, sweet corn, and fresh tomatoes all add a certain heartiness to the salad – not to forget the reduced balsamic vinegar, which adds a punch. This grilled radicchio salad is incredibly flavorful and perfect for those summer bbqs. Top with roasted chicken, steak or grilled shrimp for a complete meal.