THE WASHINGTON POST – Colour 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 realise that the element that made it so enchanting wasn’t its rich shades of red, but its bitterness.
Wait, what? Bitterness? Yes! Bitterness may the one basic taste is routinely thought of as a negative, one to avoid or cover up. But when present in balance, even as a leading flavour 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 arugula 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
Four servings (three cups)
This salad centres on red winter produce, with radicchio bringing a peppery crispness, red grapefruit adding its signature bite mellowed by juicy sweetness, and red onion offering 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 for a stunning salad that offers a welcome contrast when served with hearty winter stews or roasted dishes.
– One-quarter cup walnut pieces
– One large red grapefruit
– Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– One teaspoon honey
– One-quarter teaspoon fine salt
– One-quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– Three cups lightly packed, torn radicchio leaves
– One-quarter small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
– Two ounces soft goat cheese
In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts, tossing or stirring frequently, until fragrant, three to five 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 downward 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 one 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 three-quarter cup 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: Calories: 192; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 7mg; Sodium: 208mg; Carbohydrates: 12g; Dietary Fibre: 2g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 5g.