Radicchio has always seemed kind of magical to me. It’s one of those vegetables that is gorgeous to look at but, if you just bite into it, is as bitter as it’s looks are sweet. As much as I like to look at almost any kind of radicchio from a aesthetic point of view, it’s my least welcome guest in any salad.
But cooked? That’s an entirely different story. Once cooked radicchio loses it’s shudder producing bitterness to become sweet and silky. The only problem is that somehow in this transformation those ruby red, striated heads of tightly packed leaves completely lose their good looks.
I’m sure there is some sort of parable going on here, but I’m not going there.
One of my favorite ways to eat radicchio is slathered in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and roasted at a high heat. Delicious, for sure. But nothing very pretty to look at.
So I was thinking how to dress it up, and thought that roasted pine nuts would do the trick. I realize pine nuts are not cheap, but I used a full cup of them here. While my main objective was to bring some sort of glamour to the wilted, slightly burnt leaves, I also knew that the sweet, toasted nuttieness of massive amounts of pine nuts would be the perfect pairing with this dish.
roasted radicchio with pine nuts
2 medium sized heads of radicchio di chioggia
4 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F
Cut the head of radicchio into eighths, making sure to cut through the stem which will keep the sections from falling apart. Place the wedges on a baking sheet and pour the olive oil over. Be very generous, using your hands to rub it all over. Sprinkle generously with salt and place in oven. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the outer leaves start to brown and the center is tender when poked with a fork.
Take the radicchio out, place the wedges on a platter. Scatter the pine nuts on the same oven tray, and replace in the oven to brown. This will only take about 5 minutes. Keep your eyes on it so the nuts don’t burn.
Make the dressing:
Pour the pomegranate molasses into a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. It will be very thick, and get even thicker. Add the vinegar, whisk, and taste. You can adjust for your own personal taste.
Pour the dressing on top of the radicchio. Scatter the nuts on top, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.