Turn Up the Heat

Mediterranean Radicchio with Figs and Arugula

Radicchios, unlike red cabbages are a loose-leafed chicory with beautiful wine-red, or maroon and white-veined leaves. They are of course high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and being of Mediterranean origin, their bitter-leaves are often common in Italian salads. The type of radicchio I most use is the Treviso, the shape is closer to that of large Belgian endives but much milder than the usual radicchio.  Radicchios are great to eat raw but if you feel like adding an extra dimension, try grilling, roasting, or even gently sautéing with a bit of olive oil and a hint of sea salt and fresh herbs.

Also Italian is arugula, which was common in ancient Roman diets, and now a favorite all over the world where sometimes it’s called Rocket. The sharp, piquant leaves of arugula will spice up any salad – especially if you need to make blander notes come alive, and though they are spicy, the heat will really cool you down. It is rich in cancer-fighting phytonutrients, a great source of folic acid and vitamins, especially vitamin K for bone health, and minerals, which make it a good substitute for spinach if you need more iron in your diet. Arugula is available all year, and can provide a spike of flavor to your sandwiches and wraps.

I love to serve this salad raw or roasted with artisanal bread to complement various textured grains – the same filling will taste different inside rye, wheat or sourdough, or even a salted pretzel.

  • 1 large radicchio or Treviso, washed, chopped into 1” stripes
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 4-6 fresh ripe figs
  • 1-2 cups fresh arugula
  • Pinch of smoked finishing salt
  1. Preheat the pan with olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the radicchio with a touch of sea salt and balsamic vinegar.

Arrange the leaves of the arugula on a plate, and add sliced avocados and sliced figs – you can slice the figs into rings or halve them and add the warm radicchio mixture on top.

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