10.24.16 Seared Radicchio with Bagna Cauda Dressing
We get lots of interesting and beautiful veggies each week from our CSA, something you’re no doubt aware of if you’ve been following my weekly CSA box rundown. In a recent box, one of the items I was drawn to was a big, gorgeous, purply head of radicchio. I knew it was likely destined for some sort of salad, but I also knew not just any salad would do. Radicchio, you see, does not make for your average salad.
A member of the chicory family, radicchio has an inherently bitter flavor. But bitter in the best possible way. It lends itself wonderfully to a quick char on a grill or in a hot pan, and I figured from there I’d take it a step further by dousing it in the magical Italian sauce known as bagna cauda.
Bagna cauda already gets points in my book for its name, which means “warm bath”. Add to that the fact that it’s essentially a warm sauce made of garlic, anchovies, butter, and olive oil, and you know that this is exactly the kind of thing I want on top of my radicchio (and probably on everything else as well). Traditionally served as a kind of dip for raw vegetables, I added a bit of balsamic vinegar, whisked my bagna cauda into a warm dressing, and poured it over my seared radicchio. Fantastico.
The rich saltiness of the dressing balances the radicchio’s bitterness in the best sort of way. I added some crispy homemade croutons for texture, a little arugula for some color, and of course, a healthy sprinkling of freshly shaved parmesan cheese. This is my kind of salad.
Seared Radicchio with Bagna Cauda Dressing
- 6 anchovies (preferably oil packed)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- ½ cup stale bread, torn into pieces
- 1 medium head radicchio, quartered lengthwise
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Shaved Parmesan cheese and arugula for serving
1. Combine the anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle, and crush them into a paste (or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince them very small).
2. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add the anchovy/garlic paste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste starts to brown and crisp up, about 2-3 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil, and cook 1 minute more. Transfer everything to a heatproof container (such as a mason jar or measuring cup), and set aside.
3. Keeping the cast iron pan over medium high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Once hot, add the torn bread, and cook tossing occasionally, until bread is golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove bread from pan and set aside.
4. Return pan to medium high heat. Place the radicchio quarters cut sides down in the hot pan, searing until sides are just starting to char, about 1 minute per side. Turn each quarter once to char both cut sides. Depending on how big your pan is, you may need to sear the radicchio in batches. Once seared, transfer radicchio to a plate (if the radicchio has a tough core, cut it off the bottoms of the quarters before arranging on the plate).
5. Whisk 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar into the warm anchovy/olive oil mixture. Pour evenly over the seared radicchio. Top evenly with the torn bread, and sprinkle arugula and shaved Parmesan over the top. Serve immediately.