This Radicchio Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette is a deliciously perfect Fall and Winter mix of color, texture and crunch. Winter greens like Frisee mix really well with the bitter chicory (Radicchio) and Pears add sweetness. Add some pecans, sharp cheddar, cooked Farro and a perfectly balanced Maple Vinaigrette? Well it’s an instant winner friends!
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10 facts about Radicchio
Italian chicory or Radicchio, pronounced: ra-dee-kee-o, is one of the most colorful of the Winter leafy vegetables. Most of us are accustomed to seeing these dark, small heads that resemble purple cabbage in the grocery stores. But in the chicory world, they are also available in a beautiful pink hue. Also equally stunning is the Castelfranco variety that boasts a light green leaf with flecks of dark purple. These chicories make for striking dishes with their bright purple, pink and green hues.
Before we dive into making my Radicchio Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, let’s talk facts about Radicchio:
- Radicchio is part of the chicory family.
- Its cousins are Curly Endive, Belgian Endive, Escarole and Frisee.
- It’s origins are Italian and from the Veneto region.
- It’s very low in calories: 1 cup yields 10 calories.
- It’s a great source of Vitamin K.
- The majority of Radicchio is grown in California.
- Radicchio was first grown commercially in 1981 in the United States.
- It’s a peak growing season is mid-winter to spring.
- It can be eaten raw or cooked.
Now that we are all a bit smarter about this curious little chicory, lets get down to how to eat it right?
Recipe Ideas with Radicchio
Years ago, California Pizza Kitchen served a Tri-Colore Pizza that was simply a thin parmesan pizza crust with a salad of chicories on top with a simple vinaigrette and large shavings of parmesan cheese. It was one of my most favorite dishes to eat there. Who knows, I may create my own version with some modern twists! But back to some favorite ways of using Radicchio.
One of absolute favorite recipes is my Grilled Romaine and Radicchio Caesar Salad. Who knew that grilled lettuce and chicory could be so good? The perfect balance of bitter, slightly sweet and salty. This salad is a favorite all year in our home, and so simple to prepare too.
Epicurious has a wonderful recipe roundup with 36 incredible ways to prepare this colorful leaf chicory. Everything from salads to pastas with an incredible range of flavors and textures.
How to make Radicchio Pear Salad
So let’s talk more about my salad and how good it is. I have the neutral flavor of the frisee, combined with the bitter Radicchio. The rest of the flavors, the crunch of pecans, the sharp bites of white cheddar, sweetness of the pears, nuttiness of the farro and covered with the Maple Vinaigrette make for a satisfying salad to enjoy as a main or side. Equally impressive is the color of the salad: so bright and colorful.
I love to add grains such as Farro to my salads or vegetables. They add texture to dishes and their own nutritional value. Farro has quickly become a favorite of mine. I use it in a fantastic Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Grain Salad where it adds flavor and a filling component to the salad. The same can be said about this dish.
What is Farro?
A slight detour here if you are not familiar with Farro. Farro is also known as Emmer Wheat and considered an ancient grain like quinoa. Farro dates back to Ancient Rome as a staple in their diet. Fast forward, this grain is gaining popularity because of its nutrient dense properties. Moreover, just like quinoa it’s also high in fiber and protein making it a really good add-on to bowls and salads. Unlike quinoa, Farro is not gluten free, so you can substitute brown rice or quinoa for this salad if you have gluten sensitivities. My favorite brand of Farro is Bob’s Red Mill which can be found in large grocery stores, online or at Whole Foods or Sprouts markets. This is not an ad, it happens to be my favorite for it’s freshness and quality.
Preparing the ingredients
I suggest cooking the Farro to package instructions which is typically about 25 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
Now we are going to prep the vegetables. If this is your first time using this type of chicory, it does have a bitter flavor. Once it’s combined in the salad, there is a good balance with the rest of the ingredients, but to tame the bitterness you can soak the head or leaves in water for a few minutes. I like to cut it into wedges and then soak in water. Once you soak for about 10 minutes, place them on a towel to soak all the extra water. By the time the Farro is cooked, the radicchio will be almost dry. Just pat dry the excess water thoroughly and slice thinly.
Assembling the Salad
In a large bowl, add the thinly sliced Radicchio, lettuce greens and the drained Farro. Next slice the pear into thin slices or chop into bite size pieces and add to the mixture. Next, chop the white cheddar into small cubes, add the pecans. Now we are ready to add the Maple Vinaigrette to finish off the salad and add some freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
Tips and substitutions
Yes! Cooked brown rice, wild rice works really well as well as cooked quinoa.
Apples of all kinds work really well in this salad.
Mild cheddar works well too. Also chunky pieces of Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, smoked gouda or gruyere are perfect.
Roast chicken works really well with this salad. Pork roast or pork chops are equally delicious.
Walnuts, pumpkin, almonds and pine nuts work well with this salad.
You can add more or less, pecans, cheese, farro or pears. You can make it your own!
No. Maple syrup is highly suggested for the correct flavor profile.
Favorite Salad recipes on Pinterest
I love salad and I love creating new and delicious ways of eating more greens everyday. If you are like me, check out of favorite salads on Pinterest below. I have many of my own recipes as well as other fellow bloggers. I think you’ll enjoy the collection!
Radicchio Pear Salad with Maple VinaigretteDecember 3, 2022
- 1 bowl medium to large
- 1 pot 2 qt or similar
- 1 head Radicchio washed, dried and sliced thinly
- 4 cups Frisee or baby salad greens pre-washed
- 1 whole pear, Anjou or Bartlett cored, thinly sliced (with skin)
- 3 oz cheddar, sharp white cubed
- 1/3 cup pecan halves
- 1/3 cup Farro cooked to package directions
- 1/4 cup oil, neutral flavor canola, vegetable
- 1/4 cup maple syrup pure
- 2-3 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 tsp White Balsamic Vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1/8 tsp pepper fresh ground, or more to taste
- In a jar or container with a tight fitting lid, combine oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, White balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Tighten jar or container lid. And shake well until all ingredients are fully combined. Set aside.
Radicchio Pear Salad
- Cook Farro to package instructions.
- Cut Radicchio into wedges. Carefully soak for about 10 minutes and then place on a kitchen towel to drain excess water.
- Slice thinly and finish drying in salad spinner or with paper towels. Place in large bowl.
- Add pre-washed baby greens or frisee to the bowl with Radicchio.
- Add cooked and drained Farro, cubed cheddar cheese, pecans and sliced pears.
- Add Maple Vinaigrette and toss. Adjust for dressing. (Dressing yields 8 tbsp)
- Add extra freshly ground pepper and enjoy!
Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.
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