I know we all get creative in the winter when it comes to salad. A bit of fennel here, some cabbage there. But come this time of year, what I really start to crave are leafy salads. But heads of Romaine and Bibb, still coming from hothouses, are thin, sad, tasteless things.
That’s why the other day at the Roma Farmer’s Market my eyes immediately went to a big crate of what I thought were baby lettuces, all bright and perky. As I got closer looked more like the first little leaves of gallinella, (mache). But no. They turned out to be itty bitty baby radicchio heads, all leafy and tender. Score!
Once I got them home I realized that they were actually two different types of radicchio, one the deep purplely red we’re all used to. The other were infant pan di zucchero, a type of radicchio that stays green and – as the name would suggest – is much sweeter than regular radicchio.
Both kinds were a slightly tougher than I had anticipated, but I was still set to use them in a salad. Given their slightly bitter edge – and robust texture – I figured they would stand up just fine to a warm vinaigrette. And…well…. you know me by now. If I can work pork into a recipe, I will. So crispy bits of guanciale and their rendered fat made there way in too.
Radicchio Salad with Guanciale
6 cups of torn radicchio leaves
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/2 red onion (about 1/4 cup) chopped
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup cubed guanciale*
1/2 tsp of salt
freshly ground pepper
Place cleaned radicchio leaves in a big bowl.
Place chopped onions in a small bowl, with vinegar and salt. Let stand at least 20 minutes.
Heat small pan and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add cubed guanciale and fry until crisp and browned at the edges. Take off heat, add vinegar and onion mixture to guanciale and the rendered fat, and stir.
Pour over salad, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pepper.
Toss well, and correct for seasonings.