07 May 2008

Grilled Radiccio w/Walnuts and Gorgonzola

Flipping through the venerable Alice Water's "The Art of Simple Food" I saw dozens of beautiful recipes full of what promised to be vibrant, full, layered flavors. But rather than choose something large and complicated, I decided to go with a simple side. I would have begun with something bigger, say, a main dish or a souffle, but isn't this supposed to be "Simple"?

Ms. Waters "recipe," if you can call it such, forgoes the usual List of Ingredients followed by a paragraph of Instructions. Instead, she glazes over the general technique and leaves plenty of room for modifications. Essentially, you cut a head of radicchio into quarters or sixths, depending on the size, tossed the wedges with a little olive oil and S&P and grill them over a med-hot fire until "wilted and tender throughout," which *should* take about 10 minutes. Then you toss the wedges with a little bit of your favorite homemade vinaigrette and serve.

As you can see by the title, I took a few liberties with this recipe in the hopes that my formerly and sometimes currently picky husband might actually eat it. I added the Gorgonzola and walnuts hoping to 'disguise' the purple leaves. For the vinaigrette, I chose red wine vinegar, which has a bit of sweetness to counteract Radicchio's bitterness. Furthermore, you should know that our fancy-schmancy $99.99 grill has two heat settings, "screamin' hot" and off, so the total cooking time was cut in half.

The verdict? Delicious. Hands down, this is the most. incredible. way. to eat Radicchio. The pungent, bitter flavor of the raw leaves melted away on the grill, leaving only a deep, caramelized nuttiness that paired beautifully with the walnuts and creamy Gorgonzola. Even my husband raved about it. As he says, "Everything tastes better with cheese and nuts." And there you have it.

*Grilled Radicchio with Toasted Walnuts and Gorgonzola
Serves 2-4

1 head of organic Radicchio
3 T olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 T organic walnuts, broken into pieces
2-3 T crumbled Gorgonzola
1 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Toast the walnut pieces in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant and slightly golden. Set aside to cool.
Trim base of Radicchio and cut into 4 wedges (for a smaller head) or 6 wedges (for a medium-large head).
Toss wedges with 1 T olive oil and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk remaining olive oil with vinegar. Season to taste with S&P.
Grill wedges over medium-high heat (or screamin' hot) until core is tender and leaves are darkened, 5-10 minutes, turning as necessary.

Transfer Radicchio to platter, top with a sprinkling of walnuts and Gorgonzola and drizzle with red wine vinaigrette.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I served this with plain, old hamburgers, baked organic french fries and grilled asparagus.

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