Sophisticate Your Salad With Radicchio

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You would think the Salad in a Jar lady would be a salad-meister. Unfortunately, she is not.

When it comes to salads, I am a simpleton. Too many elements or unusual ingredients and I’m turning the page or clicking the mouse. Guess I would rather be baking bread or making pies. But salad is a key player in my daily diet, so I have devised ways to make it happen without much trouble.

My number one strategy for getting more salads into my diet is vacuum-packing chopped, ready-to-eat lettuce into glass canning jars. I make 6-7 jars at a time, and they last for over a week in my fridge.

Until now, I stuffed only romaine into those jars because it is the only lettuce I found to hold up for a week to 10 days. Then one of my readers suggested I add chopped radicchio to the romaine. She claimed it would last as long as the romaine and add color, flavor and excitement to the salad. And guess what? She was right!

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After 8 days in the fridge in a vacuum-packed glass jar, NO BROWN EDGES

But you don’t have to vacuum-pack your lettuce to enjoy radicchio. Try it in any salad that needs a touch of sophistication and interest. You can also eat it sauteed, grilled, roasted, or baked, but that’s a subject for another meal.

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How to prepare radicchio for salad: quarter, core, and slice thinly.

You may be thinking radicchio looks a lot like red cabbage, but don’t confuse them. The color of radicchio is not as purple as red cabbage, and the flavor is worlds apart. As a member of the chicory family, radicchio has a slightly bitter but not unpleasant taste. The bitterness can be tempered by soaking in water for an hour, but I don’t bother. At first glance, radicchio seems expensive at $4.99 to $6.99 a pound. But that beautiful red and white ball (some varieties are elongated similar to endive) is lightweight and usually costs between $1.50 to $3.00 a head, depending on the size and the store. You don’t need much. One head of sliced Radicchio to 6 hearts of romaine or a quarter of a head of radicchio to 4 cups lettuce is about the perfect ratio for my tastes.

You’ve probably already tried radicchio in prepared salad mix. It’s a common ingredient. But if you’ve never purchased and cooked with it yourself, the recipe below is a great place to start.

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If you don’t want to make your own, choose a sweet dressing such as honey-mustard.

Romaine, Radicchio, and Avocado Salad

Serves: 3/4 cup

Ingredients

Salad:

4 cups romaine lettuce, sliced (or 1 qt jar of vacuum-packed lettuce)

1/4 head of radicchio, cored and thinly sliced

1 orange, peeled and sliced (canned Mandarin oranges could be subbed)

1 avocado, peeled and diced or sliced 1/4 cup roasted cashews or almonds (I like the smoked ones), broken

Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons lite soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Scant 1/4 cup non-fat, unflavored Greek yogurt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons water

Directions

Salad: Toss all ingredients together in salad bowl or layer in a picturesque manner if the President is coming to dinner.

Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a small glass jar (pint-size) or bowl. Cover jar and shake or whisk well in bowl.

Notes: Make the dressing lower in calories by reducing the oil to 1 teaspoon. The texture will not be as luxurious but you may feel less guilty.

Dressing may be made ahead. If it becomes too thick after refrigeration, add water until consistency is what you prefer.

This post is part of the BlogHer Market Fresh Cooking series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Hellman’s/Best Foods and BlogHer.

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Piper@GotItCookIt July 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I stood in the produce section earlier today looking at the radicchio, but didn’t buy it! Darn, because I have everything else for this salad. Yummy!

The Café Sucré Farine July 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Paula, this does look a lot prettier with the radicchio – I love the flavor it adds too! Yummy sounding dressing…….

Paula July 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

You, my dear, are the true salad-meister. You make the most beautiful and varied salads I’ve ever seen. Thanks for stopping by.

Paula July 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Not only does this add more flavour to your romaine salad in a jar but the colour is wonderful too.

Rita July 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Ooops! I meant to mention that your Romaine, Radicchio, and Avocado salad almost jumped from my monitor onto a plate! I just put avocados on my grocery list.

Rita July 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I’m delighted that the radicchio worked out so well for you, Paula! It takes a plain salad up a level or two, doesn’t it, and isn’t it pretty? If there is leftover radicchio on the head, just wrap it in a damp towel (no plastic) and stash it in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. It keeps for a long time if you dampen the towel from time to time.

Paula July 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Thanks again Rita for suggesting radicchio. I’m hooked!

Margaret July 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

I have never read such good cooking ideas on a blog more than yours! Thank you so much. I still make your way of doing Greek yogurt (can’t keep enough of it in the fridge with my large family) and I may start the salad in the jar thing soon. I am excited that I don’t need to buy an expensive vacuum sealer to do it, thanks to your last post. Romaine and radicchio are right up my family’s alley….can’t wait to try this dressing and pair it all with avocado. Yum.

Paula July 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thanks Margaret, you made my day.

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