Csmell compelled me to create this salad – I was drawn in by the variety of red winter produce at the market and had the urge to bring it together. But while the resulting dish turned out as beautifully as I had hoped, I was surprised to realize that the element that made it so enchanting wasn’t its rich shades of red, but its bitterness.
Wait, what? Bitterness? And it is! Bitterness may be the one basic taste that is routinely thought of as a negative, one to avoid or cover up. But when present in balance, even as a leading flavor like in this salad, it can make a dish, giving it complexity and boldness that demands the eater’s attention and keeps them craving the next forkful.
That’s definitely the case here where radicchio sets the stage with its peppery crispness, red grapefruit brings its signature bite mellowed by juicy sweetness, and red onion adds an enlivening snap.
That pleasantly bitter trio is countered with a lightly sweetened balsamic dressing, creamy dabs of goat cheese and a rich crunch of toasted walnuts. You could substitute any mild, soft cheese or nut, or even veer away from the red theme and use rocket or chicory instead of radicchio.
Whichever way you go, you will wind up with a stunning salad that offers a welcome contrast when served with hearty winter stews or roasted dishes, thanks, in large part, to its alluring bitterness.
Radicchio and red grapefruit salad
Time: 15 minutes
30g walnut pieces
1 large red grapefruit
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
120g lightly packed, torn radicchio leaves (1 head)
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced into rings (12 slices)
60g soft goat cheese (chevre)
In a small dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts, tossing or stirring frequently, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl and let cool.
Using a sharp paring knife, trim the top and bottom off the grapefruit. Stand it on one end and, cutting downwards following the curve of the fruit, remove all the rind and white pith. Hold the fruit over a medium bowl and cut each grapefruit segment from its membrane, letting the segment drop into the bowl. Squeeze any juice from the remaining membrane into a small bowl or jar.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the grapefruit juice (reserve the remaining juice for another use, such as drinking it). Add the radicchio to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.
To serve, arrange about 30 grams of the radicchio onto each plate then evenly divide the grapefruit segments, onion, goat cheese and the walnuts over each portion. You can also arrange the salad in a large salad bowl and serve it family-style.
Nutrition information per serving, based on 4 | calories: 192; total fat: 15g; saturated fat: 4g; cholesterol: 7mg; sodium: 208mg; carbohydrates: 12g; dietary fiber: 2g; sugar: 7g; protein: 5g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
© Washington Post