I have to admit, I never used to like radicchio. No big surprise, right? You already know what I fuss pot I was as a child and radicchio is classically bitter. Fussy taste buds don’t like bitter things.
But, I have grown to love this wine-colored chicory veggie and its spicy, pungent taste. And I want to help spread the love for this superfood leafy so I’ve made it into a crunchy, sweet and savoury dish that simply cannot be snubbed.
Full disclaimer here: after I shot this recipe, I packed the salad away in the fridge for dinner later that night. When it was time to eat, I felt like something warm, so I just poured the salad into a frying pan and sautéed it for a few minutes until just lightly wilted…I gotta admit, I liked it even better that way! Totally enhanced all the flavours and, admittedly, makes the radicchio less bitter.
My point is that this dish is great both raw or lightly cooked so it’s really one of those special salads that can actually be stretched over a few days. And we all know that stretching a salad just makes life a little easier: Raw, crunchy salad for lunch one day. Sophisticated warmed and wilted dish for dinner the next. Perfect.
Radicchio is loaded with powerful antioxidants and has been shown to have some pain-killing and sedative properties. Bonus! And of course it’s full of fibre, vitamins and minerals (especially lots of vitamin K which is great for bone health!). Adding some fresh spinach to this salad really balances the flavours and textures and provides a double dose of healthy leafies. We love variety!
And rounding things out for the win, the signature sweetness of fresh pears and dried cranberries counteract the earthy bite of the radicchio. I’ve also piled on the plant-based protein with things superfoods like hemp and bean sprouts, which are both easily digestible sources of amino acids and fibre. (There’s even walnuts in the pesto, so you’re set to use this as a complete meal if you want).
If you want it a bit heartier, as always, you can have fun pairing this with some whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or legumes like lentils or chickpeas. Those are just some suggestions, totally up to you to do with it what you want.
Just feast your eyes on this and let it inspire you that way I was originally inspired when I eyed a similar recipe in The Happy Pear Cookbook from Ireland. Thanks guys!
Let’s get started:
- 2 c loosely packed fresh basil, washed, de-stemmed
- ½ c walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ c olive oil (or avocado or walnut oil)
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Combine herbs + nuts + garlic + salt into a food processor and blend until coarse.
- With food processor on, slowly drizzle oil into the mixture until smooth. (You can continue to thin with more oil or water if desired).
- Store in an airtight container in fridge 5-7 days.
- Tip: To avoid oxidization of the top layer of pesto (when it turns brown and yucky) simply pour a bit of extra oil or water over top while storing.
- - 1 small head of radicchio, thinly sliced
- - pre-washed box of baby spinach (approx. 100 g)
- - 1-2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
- - ¼ c hemp seeds
- - 1 c fresh crunchy bean sprouts
- - 3 green onions, sliced
- - ½ c dried cranberries
- Add all ingredients into a large salad bowl with about ½ c of pesto and mix thoroughly until everything is coated. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
I’d love to see what direction you go with this. If you snap a pic be sure to tag me @kimdeoncom so I can see your healthy creations and we can do virtual first-bumps.
Go on and get your radicchio on.